March 17, 2021, via videoconferencing

The WSIS Virtual Meeting on Accelerating Digital Transformation was held on 17 March 2021 using the Zoom platform.

Sofie Maddens, Head of Regulatory and Market Environment, ITU BDT, opened the meeting and welcomed the participants.

Also welcomed by the Deputy Director of the ITU Telecommunication Development Bureau (BDT) Stephen Bereaux.

The meeting was held to coincide with the anniversary of the outbreak of the COVID-19 epidemic. This crisis was largely a catalyst for technical and cultural change, and also led to an awareness of the need for closer cooperation at the regional and global levels.

The discussion was attended by Belal al-Hafnawi Commissioner of the Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (TRC), Dan Sjoblom General-Director of the Swedish Post and Communications Authority (PTS) and Deputy Chairman of EaPeReg (Eastern Partnership Electronic Communications Regulatory Network), Alison Gilwald Executive Director of ICT Research, South Africa and Scott Minehane ITU Expert.

In addition, the session discussed issues that need to be addressed by regulators and ICT stakeholders to accelerate digital communications for sustainable development.

The participants in the discussion emphasized that information technologies not only help in overcoming the consequences of the pandemic, but also create conditions for equalizing the socio-economic development of various countries, in particular, creating opportunities for remote work.

The use of these features depends on a number of factors, such as:

- development of digital infrastructure,

- availability of computers and mobile devices,

- availability of skills for their use among the population.

In each of these areas, there are issues to be resolved not only by telecom operators, but also at the state level. In particular, in African countries, due to infrastructural and cost constraints, mobile use remains low. At the same time, even in Sweden, about 10% of the population does not use online services, which is not due to technical, but other reasons.

This raises the question that there are limits to bringing government and commercial services online. In search of an answer to these questions, ITU conducted a survey on the actions of regulators during the pandemic and their plans to improve information support, and the results of the survey are being summarized.

At the end of the meeting, Chairperson Sofie Maddens summed up the meeting and thanked all the participants for the connection.