London 3 March 2014 – The first-ever Commonwealth ICT Ministers Forum is taking place in London at which an agreement is expected on a strategy for advancing broadband across the 53-country membership.
Ministers will also review recommendations for a pan-Commonwealth cyber-governance model and consider ways to improve access to technology for users with disabilities. Cyber-security and cyber-crime will also be discussed.
The two-day meeting, which ends tomorrow, is jointly organised by the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation and the Commonwealth Secretariat.
Ministers from 30 Commonwealth countries are attending, with representation from large Commonwealth countries such as India, to small island nations such as Nauru.
The meeting follows endorsement by Heads of Government last year of a multi-stakeholder partnership between the Commonwealth Secretariat, the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation, and the International Telecommunication Union to develop national broadband policies and strategies and help bridge the digital divide.
“The explosive growth of the internet has revolutionised global access to knowledge, networks, business opportunities and expanding markets, transcending national boundaries,” said Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma.
“Widespread access to social media brings new immediacy to politics and governance, with elevated expectations of transparency and accountability,” he added.
By exchanging experience and insights on a vast variety of subjects, whether an opportunity or a threat, and many other ICT-related issues, we continue a rich Commonwealth tradition.”
Ahead of the meeting, Omobola Johnson, Nigerian Minister of Communications Technology and Chair of the Commonwealth ICT Ministers Forum said: “I very much look forward to the inaugural Commonwealth ICT Ministers Forum and am certain that this event will strengthen pan-Commonwealth co-operation while helping to build consensus on ICT matters at a global scale.”
Professor Tim Unwin, Secretary General of the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation said: “The Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation is delighted to work closely with the Commonwealth Secretariat to organise this pivotal meeting which fills a gap in Commonwealth policy forums. In view of the great strides made by the Commonwealth family in ICTs, this forum is set to become a key influencer of the Global ICT debate.”