The ATU Regional Web consultation on WTDC reform process was held on 22nd April 2020 with over 63 participants taking part in the forum chaired by Mr. Christopher Kemei, the Director General of the Communication Authority of Kenya’s, the country’s ICT regulator. Giving the keynote address at the forum, MS. Doreen Bogdan, BDT Director at the ITU recognized how the ICT sector is the silent hero in the fight against COVID-19 and how the lessons learnt from the ongoing crisis should help shape discussions during the WTDC.
With WTDC set to take place for the first time in Africa in Addis Ababa Ethiopia (2021), participants agreed that there is need for the forum to attract new and diverse participants such as the private sector and academia. Also highlighted in the engagement were the outcomes of the 1st TDAG web dialogue held on March 2020. They include: WTDC Texts which attained the height of up to 808 texts signifying growth; and the existence of many projects that lack a funding direction which raises the question on how funds can be sourced both internally and externally. Other underscored subjects ranged from the challenge of lack of a clear focal point and prioritized areas during the conference which makes it less focused, the need for proper coordination among the ITU Members, to the importance of establishing partnerships with other entities such as non-profit organizations.
Through the open discussions, issues related to the WTDC preparatory process were also considered. It was recommended that study Group questions be ironed out before WTDC which can be achieved by grouping and agreeing on such questions at TDAG before the Conference. Therefore, it was suggested that there should be an integration of regional preparatory meetings that can be used to harmonize regional initiatives with a view to reaching a consensus before the Conference to allow for sufficient time for discussion on key subjects.
It was also suggested that of the 6 Regional preparatory meetings, (ATU, APT, ASMG, CEPT, CITEL, and RCC), three should be regional meetings while the rest should be Interregional On the Content and Structure of the Conference, it was agreed that administrative and language issues should be agreed on prior to the Conference even as WTDC seeks to emulate best practices from other sectors. The meeting closed with a commitment by the ATU Secretary General to work with the country coordinators to ensure that the regional issues are well articulated during the Conference and even as preparations for WTDC-21 commence.