Recognizing the need for a multi-stakeholder approach to successfully turn commitments into action, the ITU launched the Connect the World initiative in 2005 to help mobilize the financial, human and technical resources needed to implement outcomes of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS).
Connect the World aims to mobilize human, financial and technical resources for the implementation of the connectivity targets of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) and the Regional Initiatives adopted by Member States at the ITU World Telecommunication Development Conference.
As part of this effort, ITU has been organizing high-level events known as Connect Summits in each region where Members have expressed an interest. These summits have brought together like-minded stakeholders to work together on concrete projects aimed at improving access to information and communication technology (ICT) networks with the aim of promoting investment, employment and broader social and economic development.
Four Connect summits have been organized to date, in collaboration with regional and global partners. Each summit was preceded by an intensive and inclusive preparatory process to take into account the views of all relevant stakeholders.
The Connect Africa Summit, the first in the series, was held in Kigali, Rwanda in October 2007.
The Connect CIS Summit was held in Minsk, Republic of Belarus in November 2009.
The Connect Arab Summit was held in Doha, Qatar, from 5 to 7 March 2012.
Connect Americas was held in Panama City, Panama, from 17 to 19 July 2012.
Trends in the Asia-Pacific Region
The Asia-Pacific region has witnessed one of the fastest growths in telecommunications/ICTS and particularly mobile telephony, while six out of 25 top performers on ICT Development Index (IDI-2012) are from Asia-Pacific. Despite this stupendous growth, 77.5% population in Asia-Pacific does not have access to Internet, while the situation for broadband access is even more challenging – i.e., huge potential of potentials for investments. Considering the role of digitization and broadband in countries’ socio-economic developments, countries are gearing towards improved connectivity through deployment of robust infrastructure at access, backbone and international levels, which are posing several challenges such as deployments of 3G and 4G networks, migration from analogues to digital broadcasting, spectrum refarming for IMT Advanced bands/digital dividend, launch of satellite, submarine and terrestrial connectivity for greater bandwidth capacities, emergency and disaster communications, role of social networking giants and requirement of infrastructure, net neutrality, convergence of sectors and institutions, international connectivity and mobile roaming especially in the landlocked and small island developing states, development of local languages and applications in addition to diverse cultures and languages as well as the digital gaps between the haves and have-nots.
At the same time, telecommunications/ICTs in converged digital era have an enormous impact on virtually all aspects of our lives, while being globally recognized as a critical enabler for creative economy and socio-economic development in all countries with different phases of development. But, many people can’t take advantage of this resource because of financial impediment, disabilities, low-literacy, remoteness, cultural and language barriers. Here, the ability of ICTs to reduce many traditional obstacles, especially those of time and distance, makes it possible to use their potential to achieve digital inclusion for all walks of lives in the world including the Asia-Pacific ranging from persons with disabilities, elderly persons, indigenous communities, disadvantaged women, men, youth to many more marginalized and underprivileged groups, while supporting them to enjoy independent life, fully participate in and contribute to society, as well as improve their accessibility and affordability with more opportunities for jobs, health care and education. It is critical to extend the benefits of telecommunications/ICTs to ALL of society, in order to build a truly inclusive and sustainable information and digital society, with special focus on those of underprivileged and/or marginalized.
The Summit in Bangkok, Thailand
Fifth in the series, the Connect Asia-Pacific Summit is being organized by the Royal Thai Government and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) in close partnership with the Asia-Pacific Telecommunity (APT), the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union (ABU), Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), UN agencies, development and funding institutes, and other relevant stakeholders.
By bringing together key global and regional players in the sector, the Connect Asia-Pacific Summit will among others seek to provide a platform for mobilizing human, financial and technical resources needed to support ICT growth which is widely recognized as the key engine or enabler for future economic prosperity and sustainable development.
Connect Asia-Pacific Summit will bring stakeholders who will present and discuss ICT projects and announce new partnerships forged between development partners, and those forged between development partners and ITU. The expected outcome is envisaged to include a shared vision driven by political will, shared commitment, and partnership-building seeking to get the Asia and the Pacific more connected.
Getting the political support with the engagement of the Governments and political leaders is a must. This would ensure a safer, greener, smarter and inclusive digital society for all built around various projects.
As part of the preparatory process, ITU Member States in the Asia and the Pacific, under the leadership of the Host Country, Thailand, and the support of ITU, will prepare a draft Communique to be endorsed by the Summit. The communique will reflect the vision and the commitment for ICT development in the region.
The following will constitute the various components of the Summit:
In view of the magnitude of the event, the Summit will attract members of the press corps, as well as leading ICT analysts and observers, possibly from outside the region. A Press Conference will be hosted by the Secretary General of the ITU, the Director of the BDT, and a representative of the Host Country to inform both the national and international press of the purposes of the Summit, its vision, and to highlight the market opportunities in the region which could lead to a number of public-private-people’s partnership (4Ps) announcements and commitments on projects related investment.
High level interactive discussions
The Summit will bring together Heads of State and Government, Ministers, Heads of Regulatory Authority in the Asia-Pacific Region as well as CEOs and senior officials from industry, regional and international organizations including financial institutions. They will use this opportunity to share their views on the digital challenges and opportunities in the region and pave the way forward for investments in telecommunications/ICTs infrastructure, innovation and creative ICT applications/services, job creation and a Smartly Digital Life.
The Summit will feature high-level interactive discussions focused on addressing the challenges faced by developing economies in their efforts to harness the full potential of ICTs. Panellists will exchange ideas on issues at stake, possible outcomes and possible strategies. These will be guided by, stakeholder commitment and the support of Heads of State and Government.
Multi-stakeholder Meeting on Projects
Following consultations with ITU Member States and Sector Members, a number of projects representing market opportunity for investors would be prepared for the Summit. The projects will be prepared within the framework of the Asia-Pacific Regional Initiatives adopted by the World Telecommunication Development Conference (WTDC-10). This will be compiled in a publication that will be distributed among the participants for their reference/consultation during and beyond the meeting.
The Multi-stakeholder meeting will bring ICT stakeholders under one roof. On one hand, ITU Member States and other development entities will use this opportunity to present their projects to development partners. While on the other hand, development partners are expected to express their interest and support for these projects. Towards the end of this meeting, announcements are expected to be made on newly formed partnerships and co-financing arrangements.
The Summit in Bangkok will also provide an opportunity for intense networking for all those invited to attend. Specific attention will be given to VVIP Bilateral Meetings: e.g. meetings between Heads of State and Governments, ITU Elected Officials, etc. as well as VIP Bilateral Meetings such as meetings at Ministerial, and CEO-level.
In the same spirit, an opportunity for other participants to gather and network freely will be provided. The networking platform will also facilitate access by stakeholders to the media at the Summit.
A series of preparatory meetings for the Connect Asia-Pacific Summit were held:
- 1st Preparatory Meeting, 2 May 2013, Phnom Penh, Cambodia (back-to-back with the ITU Regional Preparatory Meeting (RPM) for Asia and the Pacific)
- ITU Ambassadors' Information Meeting, 17 July 2013, Geneva Switzerland
- ITU Ambassadors' Information Meeting, 2 August 2013, Bangkok, Thailand
- Presentation by the Ministry of ICT, Thailand (download the presentation)
- Presentation by the ITU (download the presentation)
- 2nd Preparatory Meeting , 23-24 September 2013, Bangkok, Thailand, back-to-back with the Meeting on Partnership Opportunities in Smartly DIGITAL Society, 25-26 September 2013