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  The Cabinet Secretary for Information, Communications and the Digital Economy Mr. Eliud Owalo, (centre), flanked by participants at the 2nd ATU Preparatory Meeting for the 2024 World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly (WTSA-24) in Nairobi.

Kenya Hosts Regional Preparatory Meeting for Global Telecoms Standardization and Development Forums

Kenya is hosting preparatory meetings for two key upcoming global forums on telecommunications standardization and development.

Delegates from the African region are in Nairobi for the 2nd African Preparatory Meeting for the 2024 World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly (WTSA-24), and the 1st African Preparatory Meeting for the 2025 World Telecommunications Development Conference (WTD-25).

Both preparatory meetings convened by the African Telecommunication Union (ATU) bring together key stakeholders from across the region and the world to deliberate over pressing concerns and forge common positions on telecommunications standards and development ahead of the forthcoming forums.

Speaking at the opening ceremony for the WTSA-24 prep meeting, Mr. Eliud Owalo, the Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Information, Communications, and The Digital Economy said such regional preparatory meetings are critical for the region to speak with one voice and to secure its interests at the global ICT decision-making platforms.

Mr. Owalo acknowledged the important role that ICT standards play in supporting economic activities and public services across the world.

CA Board chairperson Ms. Mary Mungai while citing resilient ICT systems as critical to Africa’s socio-economic development, urged participants to prioritize telecoms standards to save the region from being dumping ground of counterfeit and substandard equipment.

‘‘With the short lifespan associated with counterfeits, the threat of e-waste management will become real and catastrophic. As we focus on deepening digital transformation in our respective countries, the issue of telecommunications standards needs to be accorded top priority,’’ observed the Board Chairperson.

CA Director General Mr. David Mugonyi called for an inclusive and collaborative processes in solidifying African common positions that resonate well with concerns, realities, priorities, and possibilities for the continent.

‘‘The African Preparatory Meeting for WTSA-24 provide the region with an opportunity to shape global conversations on the future of ICT development taking cognizance of our needs within the global ICT landscape,’’ said Mr. Mugonyi.

Mr. John Omo, ATU Secretary General, said the preparatory meeting brought together diverse expertise and perspectives while encouraging the active participation of women as central to shaping Africa's ICT prospects.

He underscored Africa's commitment to embracing IPv6 standards and announced initiatives for capacity-building in fiber optic broadband networks.

In the prep meeting for WTDC-25, Prof. Edward Kisiang’ani, Principal Secretary for Broadcasting and Telecommunications acknowledged that with ICTs powering cross-border communications and interactions, there is a greater need for deliberate efforts to scale up ICT infrastructure development and meaningful universal access.

‘‘It therefore means that for Africa to play an active role in the global digital economy, we must channel our energies and invest heavily in ICT infrastructure and, in particular, broadband,’’ he said.

CA Director General Mr. David Mugonyi noted that emerging challenges in cyber security, e-waste, digital skilling, child online safety, among others will require regular exchange of ideas, share experiences and forging strategic partnerships across sectors and countries under the tutelage of ATU and the ITU.

The week-long engagements culminated in the awards for the 3rd series of the ATU Africa Innovation Challenge at which top innovators from the continent were feted.

ITU’s top officials including Mr. Seizo Onoe, the Director of the Telecommunications Standardization Bureau (TSB) and Dr. Cosmas Zavazava, the Director, Telecommunication Development Bureau (BDT) participated at the two key preparatory meetings.

As the continental body for ICTs, the ATU has taken proactive steps in initiating necessary preparations for the African continent to speak with one voice at the forthcoming WTSA and WTDC conferences scheduled later in 2024 and 2025, respectively.