Broadband/Network | Digital Skills | ICT4SDG
May 25, 2020

Celebrating Africa every year on 25 May: Looking forward to WTDC-21 in Ethiopia

By Doreen Bogdan-Martin, Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau

We are living in unprecedented times. Amid a global crisis, when we are doing everything possible to keep our citizens safe and healthy, we also need to look forward and plan and prepare for the future.

Every year, Africa Day provides an opportunity to reflect on what has been achieved in countries in the region to date and what pressing issues we need to work together on to ensure progress, prosperity and well-being of our increasingly interlinked societies.

Africa Day – which commemorates the founding of the Organisation of African Unity (now known as the African Union) on this day, 25 May, in 1963 – aims to celebrate African unity.

This year, the focus is on creating conducive conditions for Africa’s development. What is exciting is that the digital revolution has taken hold in Africa and a regional free trade area has been agreed.

On Africa Day, we celebrate the continent’s progress. Let us work hard to continue creating conducive conditions for Africa’s development.

With COVID-19 throwing a spotlight on connectivity, and the lack thereof in many cases, the case for urgency has been made. Inequalities are aggravating the technology and digital divides, creating an even wider gap that threatens to leave already marginalized communities and citizens behind. The lack of digital skills to acquire education and jobs is hindering opportunities for youth in the region.

The 2021 World Telecommunication Development Conference (WTDC), which for the first time will be hosted in Africa, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, from 8 to 19 November 2021, is very timely.

The role of WTDC will be critical in building on the momentum around connecting the next 3.6 billion people on this planet and suggesting real solutions and partnership models that will be conducive for this.

WTDC will be critical in building on the momentum around connecting the next 3.6 billion people on this planet.

This crisis has already shown how powerful digital technologies can be. As we support our countries, the industries and our people going forward, let these lessons learned be something that we build on to make our societies more aware and more resilient going forward.

Moreover, as we are now well into 2020, this means that we are also on our way into the last decade of ambitious action to deliver on the commitments that countries have made toward the UN Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. The Decade of Action calls for accelerating sustainable solutions to all the world’s biggest challenges and the success in achieving the​ SDGs will largely rest on digital solutions. In this respect, Ethiopia’s ambitions are well-aligned to the African Union’s digital transformation vision and strategy, which aims to expand high-speed internet and bring the benefits of the digital economy to all African countries by 2030.

In the digital economy we need frameworks that allow for digital innovation in all sectors of the economy like financial services, education, agriculture, health and energy, which can create new domains such as fintech, edutech, agritech, healthtech, cleantech, etc.

Let us work together to make WTDC in Addis Ababa the much-needed conference for digital development, where we showcase solutions and innovative approaches to bridging the digital divides that exist, in our communities, countries and regions.

On Africa Day, we celebrate the continent’s progress. Let us work hard to continue creating conducive conditions for Africa’s development.

I encourage governments to join us in the preparation of WTDC-21 as the landmark conference to advance sustainable development and address those critical development issues. A conference of solutions.

Let us start now so that we can be well prepared to protect society’s most vulnerable and well positioned to support development priorities in the national context, and to boost regional and global collaboration.

  • Was this article Helpful ?
  • yes   no
© International Telecommunication Union 1865-2018 All Rights Reserved.
ITU is the United Nations' specialized agency for information and communication technology. Any opinions expressed and statistics presented by third parties do not necessarily reflect the views of ITU.

Celebrating Africa every year on 25 May: Looking forward to WTDC-21 in Ethiopia

Send this to a friend