ITU summit seeks USD 53 bln for inter-American connectivity

Friday 20 July 2012 | 11:30 CET | News

The heads of state and government from Latin America and the Caribbean plan to mobilize “the human, financial and technical resources needed to connect the unconnected and to strengthen the role of ICT as the engine of economic prosperity and sustainable development, as well as poverty reduction in the Americas region”. The regional commitments were issues at the ITU Connect Americas Summit.

According to ITU secretary-general Hamadoun Toure, mobile penetration has surpassed the 100 percent threshold in Latin America and the Caribbean while 30 million mobile broadband subscriptions were added by end 2011. The percentage of households with internet access also continues to increase, reaching 29 percent.

The Summit focused on the five regional priorities for the Americas region for the period 2011-2014, including develop telecommunication and ICT infrastructure, covering a complete range of access levels within the region; adopt national regulatory frameworks which help close existing gaps in ICT development, while addressing evolving needs, including those brought about by an increasingly converged environment; establish effective and practical emergency communication plans at the national and international levels; implement a smooth transitioning from analogue to digital broadcasting; develop Internet Exchange Points at the local, national and regional levels to reduce internet access costs, as well as to enable the provision of new services; and promote the use of ICTs as a tool for development by creating human and institutional capacities, particularly in rural and under-served urban areas, with special emphasis on indigenous peoples and persons with disabilities.

Commitments to the tune of USD 53.4 billion were called for at the Connect Americas Summit to fund ICT projects aimed at infrastructure development and to build next-generation networks, to safeguard them by strengthening cybersecurity, to forge an enabling regulatory environment taking into account the needs of the future, and build the necessary human capacity while addressing the global challenges of our times, such as combating climate change as well as mitigating its impact by increasing the capacity to rapidly deploy emergency telecommunications in the aftermath of natural disasters.

The World Bank and the government of Nicaragua signed an agreement to provide USD 5 million financing to increase access to telecommunications services among more than 200,000 rural inhabitants in Nicaragua. Intel announced its ‘3rd Billion Programme’ to roll out broadband to transform education using Universal Service Funds. ITU and the Geneva University Hospitals (HUG) will collaborate on creating a Pan American Telemedicine Network to enable the deployment of telemedicine services and tools along with IT-enabled diagnostic devices to hospitals in remote areas of Latin America; ITU and the Real Madrid Foundation announced a partnership to support social inclusion and integration of Youth into Society by providing education and training in ICT and sports at school.

A follow-up mechanism will be implemented by ITU in collaboration with CITEL, COMTELCA and CTU and other regional/sub-regional organizations with the aim of building synergies and optimizing the use of resources. A tracking mechanism will be established.

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