Heads of State, ministers, industry CEOs and thought leaders debate ICT sector transformation and its implications

ITU Telecom World 2012, the world’s premier telecommunications and ICT event, opened its doors today to five days of debate, knowledge-sharing and networking in Dubai amongst some of the most influential leaders of industry, government and academia in the information and communication technology (ICT) sector.

The event, hosted by the government of the United Arab Emirates from 14-18 October, focuses on the current radical transformation of the ICT sector and its implications for the industry, and for the world in general.

His Highness Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, inaugurated ITU Telecom World 2012 this morning in the presence of high level government leaders and representatives, industry CEOs, regulators, and international experts.

In a message, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said, “ITU Telecom World 2012 brings welcome attention to megatrends such as ageing populations, the emergence of new economic and industrial powers, and a plethora of new technologies that are dramatically changing the way we live, learn, entertain ourselves and do business.”

Sponsored by Etisalat, the largest operator in UAE and the Middle East with some 74 million customers worldwide, the opening ceremony featured Mr Mohamed Bin Ahmed Al Qamzi, Chairman, Telecommunications Regulatory Authority, UAE; Mr Ahmad Abdulkarim Julfar, CEO, Etisalat; Sheikh Abdullah Bin Mohammed Saud Al-Thani, Chairman, Qtel Group; and ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun I. Touré.

Speaking on behalf of the host nation, Mr Al Qamzi said, “It is a great honour to host ITU Telecom World 2012 here in the UAE, the first country to invest in 3G, and a country which is proud to be implementing next-generation networks and technologies to support smart education, smart government and the knowledge-based economy. Countries will never advance unless we believe in the possibilities of the future and work towards achieving this future together at events such as this.”

Dr Touré agreed that there could be no more appropriate location for an event which centres on forging and embracing the future of ICTs than “the magnificent, futuristic – and well connected – city of Dubai”. He noted that mobile will continue to rein supreme thanks to the miracle of wireless technology and that regions which are currently least wired will be fully connected with wireless technologies in less than five years’ time.

“We believe that cutting edge technology is the best way not only to connect the world, but to use the transformative DNA of ICTs in improving, creating, and innovating ICT solutions for a better, brighter and prosperous tomorrow which will give birth to a truly Knowledge-based Information Society,” Dr Touré said.

Following the opening ceremony, dignitaries visited the showfloor and national pavilions which highlight the transformational role of ICTs in their countries. The first stop was ITU’s Saving Lives Pavilion which showcases the catalytic role of ICTs in reducing disaster risk reduction and strengthening disaster management.

The forum panel debates began with the opening session of the high-level Leadership Summit, “Forging the Future”, where leaders explored the three strands of communicating, funding and protecting the future which will set the tone for the next four days of debate here in Dubai. The finalists of the Young Innovators Competition also met for the first of a series of workshops and mentoring sessions on the theme of youth and development.

Delegates from all over the world, including some from Africa will be present at the five-day summit.

Follow and participate in the global debates at ITU Telecom World 2012 through Twitter @ITU #ITUWORLD12, through Facebook at www.itu.int/facebook and on LinkedIn here.