BDT Weekly Highlights

Highlights – September 2021

20 - 24 September

Other: Digital Impact In Action series

The Digital Impact In Action series was launched last week. Alana developed the first National ICT Household Survey in the Philippines. With the support of her pioneering work, the government can implement efficient, evidence-based programmes and policies to improve connectivity and national ICT development throughout the country. 

This is Digital Impact in Action! Using videos, images, pull quotes and infographics, the Digital Impact in Action series will amplify diverse voices from around the world to show how ITU-D helps to accelerate digital transformation. Each month, we introduce some of the people, projects and programmes which - with the help of ITU-D - are using the power of technology to build a bright, sustainable future for all.

Other: Partner2Connect Digital Coalition

The Partner2Connect Digital Coalition was launched last week. It aims to create a platform for global leadership to mobilize commitments, resources, and partnerships, and to implement solutions and projects, to drive digital transformation. Leaders from government, international organizations, and the private sector, as well as youth representatives, gathered from across the globe in a virtual launch meeting, sharing their visions of advancing connectivity to drive socio-economic development. Coalition actions will focus on four key areas: connecting people everywhere; empowering communities; building digital ecosystems; and incentivizing investments. Each focus area will be supported by a working group. In line with the UN Secretary General’s Roadmap for Digital Cooperation, the Partner2Connect Digital Coalition has received support from the Office of the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Technology. Convened by ITU, the four working groups will meet on a regular basis to discuss issues, define key actions, and make recommendations to advance coalition aims in each focus area. The coalition preparatory process will help refine the governance and pledge models ahead of the Partner2Connect Digital Development Roundtable, set to take place next year on 7-9 June during the ITU World Telecommunication Development Conference. The Partner2Connect Digital Coalition builds on the outcomes of the first chapter of the Road to Addis discussion series, organized by ITU to build momentum towards the WTDC. The second chapter of the series looks at the four Partner2Connect Digital Coalition focus areas, with events planned between November 2021 and May 2022. 

Highlights of the first chapter of the Road to Addis series can be found in an e-booklet, The Connectivity Road to Sustainable Development.

Learn more about Partner2Connect here:

Capacity development: Asia and Pacific

ITU organized an online training on Building IoT Solutions for Smart Agriculture. The training was organized in partnership with IoT Academy, Iran, under the auspices of CoE programme in Asia and the Pacific from 20 September - 3 October.

Statistics: Global

A new report, Connectivity in Least Developed Countries: Status report 2021, produced by ITU and the United Nations Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (UN-OHRLLS), examines the root causes of the wide usage gap in LDCs. Along with affordability, these include low awareness about the benefits of the Internet, lack of access to devices, insufficient skills, low content relevance, and lack of appropriate regulation. The ''Connectivity in the Least Developed Countries: Status report 2021'' provides practical solutions to improve digital access, as well as concrete policy recommendations to help accelerate progress towards universal and affordable connectivity. This report was launched at the Road to Addis: Partner2Connect event on 20 September 2021. Find the report here:

Capacity development: Arab States

ITU Arab States participated in the 5th Steering Committee Meeting of the ITU Centres of Excellence for the Arab Region. The Steering Committee meeting reviewed the implementation of the agreed training courses that were planned to be delivered for the CoE network in the region for the first 8 months of 2021 and the remaining courses that will be delivered during the last quarter of 2021. Moreover, the meeting discussed ITU’s Quality Assurance process for content development as well as CoEs courses promotion strategies.

Digital inclusion: Global

The EQUALS Global Partnership held its 2021 Annual Meeting on 17 September, virtually. The meeting featured remarks from EQUALS co-founders ITU, ITC, UN Women and GSMA reflecting on the last five years and achievements of the partnership. A special session in the meeting focused on Generation Equality and the shared commitments made to the movement by EQUALS partners, including ITU. The partners heard updates from the government of Rwanda, UNICEF and EY about specific solutions to bridging the gender digital divide. The four EQUALS coalitions – Access, Skills, Leadership and Research – gave overviews of successes and challenges from the past year. ITU as host agency was well represented in the coalition reports, having led and participated in such events as Girls in ICT, CSW65 (Championing Women's Leadership in Technology), Girls and Women Talking Tech (now more than 100 interviews), and a new initiative called Her Digital Skills Powered by EQUALS, comprising skills workshops, a badge certification program and e-mentoring. ITU highlighted our work in the EIF joint program, an upcoming women's tech entrepreneurship skills course on ITU Academy, the Network of Women, and the Women in Cyber program. New projects and alliances were announced, including a partnership with SheWorks! and an upcoming webinar series presented jointly with USTTI. The German government announced their continuing support of EQUALS in 2022.

Digital inclusion: Asia and Pacific

The Girls in ICT Day Pakistan celebration was conducted in conjunction with a training entitled “EQUALS TECH4GIRLS Workshop”, the first online course on mobile apps development supported by GSMA, W4, ITU, CodeGirls, and the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication of Pakistan. ITU delivered a presentation on online safety for girls. This online course targeted 80 girls from Islamabad, Karachi and other areas in Pakistan. In October and November, there will be four other EQUALS Tech4Girls workshops on mobile application development and introduction to e-commerce organised by EQUALS partners, GSMA, W4, and CodeGirls.

Digital services and applications: Global

A mOralHealth handbook was launched under the joint WHO-ITU “Be Healthy Be Mobile” global initiative to support the implementation of mHealth projects in the area of oral health. Oral health is an important pre-requisite for overall health and well-being; yet, nearly half of the world’s population are affected by oral diseases. Access to treatment remains a challenge, either due to lack of appropriate services or high cost. Making prevention accessible to all is possible with the aid of mobile technology. Today, more than 95% of the population are covered by mobile-broadband networks, and in most countries most people have mobile phones. The mOralHealth Handbook provides modules to support country implementation of digitally enabled oral health projects as standalone or integrated with other mHealth for NCDs interventions. The Handbook offers practically applicable information on all key steps of a programme – from setting goals, to establishing effective governance, to selecting and adapting content, to building partnerships, to launching, promoting, and evaluating the programme.

Environment: Global

BDT co-organized and spoke at the UNIDO Learning and Knowledge Development Facility (LKDF) session on ‘How can digitalization help achieve inclusivity in education?' The session, which included four speakers from ITU’s Generation Connect initiative, discussed the importance of both digital and green skills, and the impact of digitalization on education and jobs creation in the green economy.

Connect2Recover: Global

The Connect2Recover research competition, which was supported by ITU-D Sector Member Huawei, aims to build a global research community of think tanks and academia around research and knowledge sharing to accelerate digital resiliency and digital inclusion during the COVID-19 recovery globally. The research competition was launched on 30 July 2021, and 307 research proposals were received by the close of the competition on 17 September 2021, demonstrating strong interest from the academic community on the potential collaboration with ITU. The eligible research proposals will be evaluated by a jury committee, based on the published evaluation criteria and competition scope to select 15 winning research proposals, which will be developed into 15 research papers. It is intended that the research papers would lead to tangible outcomes to support development of resilient digital, infrastructure for meaningful connectivity impacting key areas such as education, health and job creation in the beneficiary countries.

13 - 17 September

Cybersecurity: Global

ITU aims to improve the cybersecurity readiness, protection, and incident response capabilities of Member States by conducting CyberDrills at the national, regional, and global level. As part of ITU global CyberDrill 2021, ITU planned three interregional meetings on the theme “Cyber Resilience and Protecting Critical information infrastructure”. The Interregional Meeting I: Asia and the Pacific and CIS regions was held on 15 September. The Interregional Meeting II: Africa and Europe was held on 16 September. The Interregional Meeting II: Americas and Arab regions is planned for 23 September.

Digital inclusion: Global

ITU held the second Generation Connect Visionaries Board meeting. The board offered strategic advice on ways the ITU can foster meaningful and sustainable youth engagement in the digital agenda. Members of the board also volunteered to further engage in the co-design process of the Generation Connect Youth Summit which will precede WTDC in June 2022. Find out more about the Generation Connect Visionaries Board.

Digital inclusion: Global

The Generation Connect Youth Summit Co-Design Team held its third Co-Design Workshop on 16 September. The Team is made up of around 40 members including Generation Connect Youth Envoys, Generation Connect Visionaries Board Members, ITU Regional Focal Points, ITU Youth Task Force Members, and winners of the Generation Connect Video Pitch Competition. The Workshop focused on fine-tuning the details of participant selection, content, outcomes, and virtual participation. The Team’s exciting ideas and valuable feedback will now be used to prepare a final version of the Youth Summit “skeleton”.

Digital innovation ecosystem: Africa

The Regional Office for Africa engaged in a conversation on digital development with PhD students in Kenya.

Digital innovation ecosystem: Africa

On 7 September, ITU kicked off the first of six webinars in Digital Innovation Ecosystem Training, titled “Building entrepreneurial communities and competitive ICT industries for job creation”. This course is co-organized with Smart Africa, and targets high-level representatives from ITU’s Africa region and Smart Africa’s Member States. Participants come from governments, academia, incubators and accelerators, the private sector and international organizations and represent 29 countries. The training combines both self-paced and taught activities, and will equip participants with the expertise to develop mature digital innovation ecosystems and accelerate digital transformation, leading to job creation and competitive industries.

Digital services and applications: Americas

The ITU Caribbean Area office is finalizing a joint programme with other UN regional agencies on digital financing and SMS messaging to deal with fake news on Covid vaccination and school connectivity in Barbados.

Emergency telecommunications: Americas

ITU organized an online workshop on the Role of Telecommunications/ICTs for Disaster Risk Reduction and Management for the Americas. During the event, participants discussed how ICT solutions and digital technologies could be used for disaster management and risk reduction. In addition, the first day of the event featured the Output Report on ITU-D Q5/2 on Utilizing telecommunications/ICTs for disaster risk reduction and management. The event also included a session focused on gender equality.

Environment: Global

The Environment team presented the ‘EACO Regional E-waste Data Harmonization’ project to the 9th Meeting of the Expert Group on ICT Household Indicators (EHG). The project is developing regional baseline surveys to collect e-waste data from both households and businesses which will be trialed in 6 East African countries in 2022. The Environment team will continue to strengthen partnership with the ICT Data and Analytics Division on e-waste indicators, their inclusion in household surveys and updating on project progress.

Policy and regulation: Africa

Interviews took place with representatives from the public and private sector of Kenya to develop the country collaborative regulatory case study. The study will provide input to the ongoing regulatory work under the ITU-FCDO partnership in Kenya.

WTDC-21: Africa

The Africa Network of Women for WTDC (Africa NoW4WTDC), with support from the ITU Regional Office for Africa, invited members to a webinar on “An introduction and overview of the ITU Development Sector” (6 September). The webinar, attended by 70+ participants, is the first in a series of topical regional webinars that the network in Africa is planning to engage women in the work of the Development Sector in preparation for WTDC.

6 – 10 September

Digital inclusion: Global

The Generation Connect Visionaries Board Partnerships Working Group, bringing together HRH Princess Beatrice York (Vice President at Afiniti), Alexa Roscoe (Disruptive Technology Lead at the IFC), and Jamal Edwards (Senior Program Manager at Microsoft), has had two successful meetings so far. This new Working Group is focused on mobilizing both funding and “in-kind” resources and partnerships ahead of the Generation Connect Youth Summit. Two dynamic Co-Design Workshops have been held with the Generation Connect Youth Summit Co-Design Team, on 11 August and 1 September. The Team is made up of around 40 members including Generation Connect Youth Envoys, Generation Connect Visionaries Board Members, ITU Regional Focal Points, ITU Youth Task Force Members, and winners of the Generation Connect Video Pitch Competition. It is responsible for co-creating a “skeleton” of the Summit by mid-September, including structure, content, look and feel, participant selection, outcomes, and communications. A third workshop is under consideration.

Digital services and applications: Asia and Pacific

ITU, UNOPS and OHRLLS organized a briefing for Ambassadors and UN Agencies in New York on “Smart Islands: Bringing Digital Experiences to Pacific Communities Supporting the COVID-19 Socio Economic Recovery”. Smart Islands is a programme that adopts an innovative approach to deliver connectivity and scalable and sustainable services to disadvantaged island communities. It aims at transforming rural and coastal communities and improving their well-being and livelihood by connecting them to a range of digitally enabled services. The programme, built on the ITU-led Smart Villages initiative piloted in Niger and being developed in Egypt and Pakistan, adopts an innovative approach to deliver connectivity and scalable and sustainable services to disadvantaged island communities.

Network and digital infrastructure: Asia and Pacific

Tonga adopted the National Spectrum Plan 2021, developed under direct country technical assistance by ITU. Hon. Poasi M. Tei, Minister for Communications (MEIDECC) adopted the plan through a declaration.

Connect2Recover: Global

ITU met with WHO to strengthen cooperation on the use of ICTs for Non Communicable Diseases, and other WHO priorities, such as remote care, agile governance and resilient digital healthcare infrastructure. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for resilient digital infrastructure especially for enhanced healthcare. Strengthening collaboration with WHO in the area of resilient digital healthcare infrastructure would support the implementation of Connect2Recover, in particular the pillar on healthcare.

30 August – 3 September

Other: Americas

ITU met with the team leaders of UN Resident Coordinators’ Offices in the Americas region to talk about ITU’s engagement in the region and strengthen the strategic collaboration between ITU and the UN Development Coordination Office (DCO).

Connect2Recover: Global

The Connect2Recover Initiative received a voluntary contribution of USD 670,000 from ITU-D Sector Member Huawei to conduct an international research competition. The competition and research grant will build a global research community to help countries 'build back better with broadband' for COVID-19 recovery in the fields of education, health and job creation in beneficiary countries. The deadline to submit the research proposals has been extended to 17 September 2021.

Other: Americas

ITU, together with UN System representatives in Chile, met the Chairwoman of the Chilean Constitutional Convention. The UN System is ready to support the Convention with knowledge-sharing, publications, data, statistics and analysis. This is the first Constitutional Convention to have equal representation of men and women. Indigenous people are also represented.

23 - 27 August

Capacity development: Africa

The Regional Office for Africa participated in a panel on Accelerating Technology and Innovation for Gender Equality during the Tanzania Youth Digital Summit 2021. The focus of the Summit was: Digital Skills for Youth Employment & Entrepreneurship.

Digital inclusion: Global

ITU organized the third edition of the virtual ‘Digital Market Workshop’ on Wednesday 25 August. This series of workshops is dedicated and tailored to women from the textiles and apparel sector in Ethiopia who are enrolled in the ITU/EIF capacity building programme, that is aimed at women entrepreneurs from this sector to integrate digital technologies into their businesses. 25 women entrepreneurs actively participated in this workshop and all of them indicated that attending the workshop improved their understanding and knowledge on how digital skills and technologies can increase the competitiveness of their business/professional horizon. The workshop provided women-owned businesses with advice on strategies to improve the quality of their products in the fashion sector, including product development and assortment planning, by incorporating digital strategies and using innovative digital tools to open up opportunities in international markets.

Digital inclusion: Asia and Pacific

ITU participated in a panel to select three out of five best final projects presented by young women who graduated from the “Indonesian Women in Tech: Programming with Python” training organised virtually by the Ministry of Communications and Informatics Indonesia, CISCO System, and the International Telecommunication Union on 26 August 2021. ITU also invited Ms. Shefali Kapoor Patel of EQUALS as an international inspirational speaker as a Python programmer and woman in ICT. In total, 500 young women in Indonesia graduated from the training of Indonesian Women in Tech: Programming with Python from 26 July to 20 August.

Emergency telecommunications: Americas

Following the devastating earthquake in Haiti on 14 August, ITU has deployed 20 Iridium satellite phones and 10 Inmarsat Broadband Global Area Network (BGAN) terminals to Haiti. The equipment will be used by the Directorate for Civil Protection to facilitate relief and recovery operations. ITU supports its Member States in all four phases of disaster management – including the design of national emergency telecommunications plans and setting up of early warning and monitoring systems – to help them respond effectively when disaster strikes.

Environment: Asia and Pacific

ITU participated in the “Race to Zero: Meet the World’s Race to Zero Heroes for Climate Action”, Thailand's first meeting with world experts to learn best practices for business opportunities. The meeting aims to build momentum around the shift to a decarbonized economy ahead of COP26, where governments must strengthen their contributions to the Paris Agreement.

Network and digital infrastructure: Asia and Pacific

ITU attended the 18th APT Telecommunication/ICT Forum (ADF-18) from 24 to 26 August. The ADF-18 looked at policies and efforts to reduce the digital divide in the aspects of affordability and reliability, and introduced the current status of the Low Earth Orbit satellite communication industry.

Network and digital infrastructure: CIS

The ITU Information session on “Technology priorities of the CIS countries: networks 2030, quantum communication, cybersecurity. Development, testing and standardization” assessed technological priorities of CIS countries. The session featured thematic presentations by ITU, the Bonch-Bruevich St. Petersburg State University of Telecommunications, PJSC Rostelecom and Solar-Rostelecom. Among others, the Cyber Polygon of Russia was presented. The information session also discussed key issues of standardization of quantum communication technologies.

Connect2Recover: Global

A taskforce on Connect2Recover, Giga and FCDO initiatives was set-up to streamline data collection and enhance information sharing. Through increased communication and knowledge sharing, a common methodology and processes will be built to strengthen operational efficiencies and improve communications with members.

Giga: Africa

A high-level Giga information session was held between the Giga team and the Guinean Minister of National Education and Literacy and the Minister of Post, Telecommunications and the Digital Economy. A technical follow up meeting will be organized to explore the opportunities and synergies that Giga could bring to support national digital transformation and ongoing connectivity initiatives in the country.

Giga: Africa

The ITU Giga Africa and Connect2Recover teams organized a Giga and Connect2Recover information session for the regulator ARECOM (Mozambique).

Other: Africa

ITU and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) Kenya project team met with all local and international partners working on the implementation of different aspects of the UK FCDO Digital Access Program (DAP) in the country. Meetings will be held on a regular basis.

Other: Africa

The ITU Regional Office for Africa provided an information session on the ITU and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) project in Nigeria to the UNICEF country office and the Giga team.