Nº 3 2014 > Dubai Action Plan
Regional initiatives guide ITU and countries themselves in developing and implementing specific projects to address priority needs in the area of telecommunications and information and communication technologies. The Dubai Action Plan includes 30 regional initiatives, five for each of the six regions of ITU’s Telecommunication Development Sector (ITU–D) as described in this article (see also box).
Development of broadband access and adoption of broadband
All regions accord priority to the initiative for the development of broadband access and adoption of broadband. This initiative has, for all regions, the objective of assisting Member States in the development of broadband infrastructure and access thereto. The regions nevertheless adopted this initiative with some nuances. For Africa, there is a particular emphasis on subregional and continental interconnection, as well as on urban and rural areas. Increasing uptake is a particular objective of the Americas.
The Arab States and Asia-Pacific are concerned with urban and rural areas, while the objectives of the Arab States also include a focus on least developed countries and issues related to conformance and interoperability. The Asia-Pacific region wants support for system construction with a view to resolving social issues by leveraging the benefits of telecommunication and information and communication technology applications. The Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) is concerned with remote areas and with using energy-efficient technologies.
For Europe, the objectives are prompted by the significant differences in European countries, leading to an urgent need to assist administrations in every aspect of the practical implementation and development of high-speed networks. This action may also comprise the establishment of local or regional broadband roll-out plans. The development of communication networks would be boosted by using the experience in infrastructure sharing with the energy sector (smart grids) and should aim to benefit from cross-sectoral synergies. Because the degree of progress in this field varies considerably between Member States in the European region, sharing best practices and regulatory policies and providing assistance would help countries to use resources most effectively.
Capacity building was another priority for all regions. For Africa, the initiative of strengthening human and institutional capacity building was set with the objective of providing stakeholders in that region, on a sustainable basis, with human resources and skills needed for harmonious development of the telecommunication and information and communication technology sector. For the Americas, the initiative of capacity building was set to engage in global policy for information and communication technology, with a special focus on improving cybersecurity and the participation of developing countries in the existing Internet governance institutions. The objective is to enhance the capacity building of Member States in that region with a view to promoting an enabling environment, supporting the implementation of initiatives related to information and communication technology, and encouraging developing countries to participate actively in forums on global policy for information and communication technology, in close collaboration with existing institutions.
The CIS favoured a specific approach with an initiative to introduce training technologies and methods using telecommunications and information and communication technologies for human capacity building, with the objective of assisting ITU Member States in the CIS region in setting up and developing national programmes for introducing telecommunications and information and communication technologies into education.
A related initiative for harnessing the benefits of new technologies was set for the Asia-Pacific region with the objective of assisting Member States in the use of new technologies to address human and technical capacity challenges.
Similarly, the smart learning initiative was set for the Arab States, with the objective of bringing about a shift from traditional methods of teaching in schools and universities, using books and paper-based sources, to smart learning with the use of tablet computers, the latest software and modern telecommunication and information and communication technology techniques to provide access to a range of academic information, resources and subject matters.
Building confidence and security
With the exception of Asia-Pacific, the other five regions accorded priority to building confidence and security in the use of telecommunications and information and communication technologies.
The Africa region set the objective of assisting Member States in defining and implementing appropriate strategies for the protection of information and communication technology infrastructure, and building confidence in the use of these technologies and their applications. The objective set by the Arab States focuses on building confidence and security in the use of e‑commerce in the Arab region, and on combating all forms of cyberthreats, including the misuse of information and communication technologies. The focus of the European objective is on children and young people in Europe.
For the CIS, the objective is to build the capacity of Member States in the region to implement the initiative, within the framework of the concept of information ecology for sustainable development and combating the potential negative consequences of the impact of the information environment. A separate but related CIS initiative is to create a child online protection centre for the CIS region, with the objective of providing ITU Member States in the CIS region with centralized advisory and technical assistance on various aspects of child online protection. In the Americas region, improving cybersecurity will receive special attention under the initiative on capacity building to engage in global ICT policy, as stated above.
Spectrum management and transition to digital broadcasting
An initiative common to Africa, the Americas and Europe concerns spectrum management and transition to digital broadcasting, with the objective of assisting Member States of these regions in these areas. The European slant on this objective is to foster regional cooperation, mainly supplemented by direct assistance to administrations in the process of analogue television switch-off, and management of the frequencies in the digital dividend bands, which are to be used bearing in mind the most effective use of radio spectrum.
Persons with disabilities
The Arab States, CIS and Europe all have as an initiative ensuring access to telecommunications and information and communication technologies, in particular for persons with disabilities. The Arab States set the objective to ensure the right of access for persons with disabilities in the Arab region. The objective of CIS is to assist ITU Member States in the CIS region in developing regulations and technical solutions, as well as in implementing specialized training programmes, to ensure the accessibility and user-friendliness of these technologies for persons with disabilities. In Europe, the objectives are to further promote e‑accessibility in the information and communication technology ecosystem, and provide the administrations with the most suitable solutions available. Both objectives may comprise assistance to national regulatory authorities and sharing of best practices in cooperation with relevant institutions.
Emergency telecommunications is an important initiative for the Americas and the Asia-Pacific regions, and was set with the objective to provide assistance to Member States at all phases of disaster management, for example in disaster preparedness including early warning, disaster response and relief, and rehabilitation of telecommunication networks. To that objective, the Americas add a particular focus on small island developing States and the least developed countries in the region.
A mixed bag
The remaining initiatives reflect priorities set by different regions. An initiative for Africa seeks to strengthen and harmonize policy and regulatory frameworks for the integration of African telecommunication and information and communication technology markets. The objective is to facilitate and promote the reform of Africa's national telecommunication and information and communication technology sectors, and the implementation of strategies relating to those sectors, in order to achieve subregional and regional integration of related infrastructure, services and markets.
The Americas have the reduction of telecommunication service prices and Internet access costs as an initiative, with the objective of providing assistance to Member States in the region in defining and coordinating policies, ways and means to reduce the cost of access and interconnection, as well as the prices of telecommunication and Internet services and Internet for users, through necessary investments.
The Arab States set as an initiative the use of telecommunications and information and communication technologies for smart and sustainable development and protection of the environment. The objective of this initiative is to raise awareness of the importance of sustainable development and environmental protection, and formulate legislation and regulatory frameworks in order to achieve smart and sustainable development.
The Asia-Pacific region gives priority to an initiative on special consideration for least developed countries, small island developing Sates, including Pacific island countries, and landlocked developing countries, with the objective of providing special assistance to these countries in order to meet their priority requirements regarding information and communication technologies. Further, in its policy and regulation initiative, the Asia-Pacific region sets the objective to assist Member States in developing appropriate policy and regulatory frameworks, enhancing skills, increasing information sharing and strengthening regulatory cooperation.
Finally, the initiative set by Europe on entrepreneurship, innovation and youth has the objective of fostering the creation of an enabling environment and building capacities at the regional level, aimed at growth of entrepreneurship and increased innovation in the information and communication technology ecosystem, while encouraging empowerment of young men and women and creating new opportunities for them in the sector. Strengthened cooperation with diverse stakeholders, including academia and the private sector will be necessary.