Emerging Trends | ICT4SDG | ITU Plenipotentiary Conference 2018
October 23, 2018

Meet the Candidates: William Ijeh for Director of the ITU Telecommunication Development Bureau

ITU’s Member States will soon elect the Union’s top executives at the ITU Plenipotentiary Conference 2018 (PP-18) in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. ITU News is highlighting written interviews (Q&As) with the candidates for each of ITU’s top posts. Below is the Q&A for William Ijeh, candidate for Director of the ITU Telecommunication Development Bureau.

How should ITU evolve to maintain relevance in today’s world?

As the United Nations specialized agency responsible for information and communication technologies (ICTs), ITU must remain at the cutting edge of technology development, thereby maintaining its ability to provide the required support to its members and ICT stakeholders. By so doing, ITU will reinforce its leading role in promoting technologies around the world while maintaining its core fundamental values of neutrality, transparency and fairness to all.

ITU should continue to provide suitable platforms for discussions on all ICT topics, bringing together both developed and developing countries as well as other ICT stakeholders, in a spirit of cooperation and collaboration.

The United Nations has given ITU the important role of coordinating telecommunication operations and services throughout the world. The three ITU Bureaux must work as a team to ensure the rational use of the radio‑frequency spectrum, the speedy development of standards, and the timely provision of assistance to developing countries.

ITU must implement gender mainstreaming in all aspects of its activities including recruitment and project management.

Today, ICTs have provided an incredible integrated platform for everyone. However, half of the world’s population is still not connected to the Internet. The digital gap still remains, and ITU will need to continue efforts to address this significant challenge. ICTs are critical for socio‑economic development, and those countries which do not have adequate access to ICTs will be at a distinct disadvantage. ITU must be prepared to take up this challenge.

“ITU must remain at the cutting edge of technology development, thereby maintaining its ability to provide the required support to its members and ICT stakeholders.”

ICTs will play critical in the implementation of the 2030 UN Agenda for Sustainable Development. Therefore, as a core partner in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), ITU must promote ICTs globally as a catalyst for its successful implementation by ensuring:

  • global broadband connectivity;
  • affordable rates;
  • reduction of the digital gap;
  • promotion of the use of ICTs for small‑ and medium‑sized enterprises (SMEs), especially in developing economies;
  • that adequate spectrum is available for ICTs;
  • gender inclusion.
What are your top three priorities and how do you plan to achieve them?

My three top priorities are:

  • To ensure effective and efficient management of financial and human resources within the ITU Telecommunication Development Bureau (BDT). This will entail implementing sound fiscal management policies, which will ensure that BDT resources are managed with emphasis on field activities.
  • To promote universal broadband access at affordable prices. This will require several actions including the elaboration of suitable policies for ITU members, the promotion of enabling regulatory policies, and working with development partners to secure funding for ICT projects.
  • To establish public‑private partnerships for development. This involves strengthening cooperation with the ITU membership, engaging with the public and private sectors, international and regional organizations, multilateral financial institutions and special ICT investment institutions, and civil society in a concerted effort to bring ICTs within the reach of every citizen.

What do you see as ITU’s unique role in accelerating progress on the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals?

ITU should contribute to shaping the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by ensuring that ICTs are integrated into the implementation process. The achievement of many of the SDGs will be positively affected through the use of ICTs. Therefore, ITU should increase efforts with the UN and other stakeholders in promoting the role of ICTs for the implementation of the SDGs, as well as develop partnerships with international and regional agencies for their successful implementation.

“The digital gap still remains, and ITU will need to continue efforts to address this significant problem.”

ITU should place emphasis on global connectivity and affordable access to ICTs, especially for economies with special needs, Least‑Developed Countries, Small‑Island Developing States and Landlocked‑Developing Countries. I believe that the achievement of many of the SDGs will be facilitated by the use of ICTs, where ITU is expected to play a critical role in ensuring that ICTs are integrated, fully, whenever possible, in the implementation process.

What has been your most important leadership achievement?

Perhaps my most significant leadership achievement was the organization of a Summit of the Heads of State and Government of the Group of Fifteen in Harare, Zimbabwe in 1996. The summit was a South‑South event where a development agenda for mutual cooperation was established for the group and I led the organizing team.

How have you built consensus amongst diverse stakeholders?

“My strategy for building consensus among stakeholders involves listening to the parties, assessing their different views, analysing their respective positions and approaching the issue(s) from a neutral viewpoint.”

My strategy for building consensus among stakeholders involved listening to the parties, assessing their different views, analysing their respective positions and approaching the issue(s) from a neutral viewpoint. Based on a good understanding of the situation and development of trust, dialogue was established with the parties. All conclusions were undertaken in a fair‑minded approach by ensuring, as far as possible, a win‑win situation and satisfactory results for all.

What else would you like to add?

ITU is the oldest UN agency and it has been at the forefront of many technological developments in the area of ICTs. The organization has remained true to its mandate and it must remain at the forefront of ICT development, always taking into consideration the provisions of the ITU’s Constitution and Convention. The organization should continue to serve the entire global population, ensuring that broadband connectivity is made available to everyone. In this regard, the three ITU Bureaux must continue to work together for the good of ITU’s members.

“Enhanced regional presence will help to strengthen ITU’s activities and its relations with Member States and all ICT stakeholders, and deliver meaningful services globally.”

Regarding BDT, there should be greater emphasis on its activities at the regional level. Therefore, BDT representatives in the field must be seen as ITU representatives and should be equipped to cater for the needs of the different regions. Enhanced regional presence will help to strengthen ITU’s activities and its relations with Member States and all ICT stakeholders, and deliver meaningful services globally.

I support North‑South and South‑South initiatives, and I believe that this will facilitate knowledge sharing and the transfer of technologies.

As an ITU staff member, I fully recognize the competencies and skills of staff, and I place great value in them as the principal assets of the Union. I would like to extend my appreciation to ITU staff, and encourage and reassure them that their values are very well respected.

William Ijeh, prior to announcing his candidacy, was the Head of Administration, ITU Radiocommunication Bureau. Learn more about Mr. Ijeh and the other candidates for ITU’s top posts on the Candidates page of the PP-18 website.
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Meet the Candidates: William Ijeh for Director of the ITU Telecommunication Development Bureau

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