Business & Finance


DURBAN– More than 7,000 delegates from around the world are expected to gather at Durban’s Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre for the Telecom World conference, organized by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) from Sept 10 to 13,

The event is an annual exhibition and forum for government and industry leaders to explore challenges, partnerships and solutions, and to identify investment opportunities and best practices for socio-economic development through information communication technology (ICT). This will be the first time the conference will be held in Africa.

The ITU is an ICT agency of the United Nations which, among its many functions, allocates global radio spectrum and satellite orbits. It also develops technical standards which ensure networks and technologies seamlessly inter-connect.

Industry players are expected to engage on different technology dialogues and innovations such cryptocurrency and other forms of productions related to the ICT industry.

Telecommunications and Postal Services Minister Siyabonga Cwele said the conference would explore the ICT sector. This conference [has] a lot of advantages. The first is to showcase what we can do in terms of new technologies as a country, and secondly, [it] tells the world that we are open to investment,” he said.

We are looking at particular investment so that we can create jobs, invest in data and innovation centres and new modern factories for production. We are expecting people from government, regulators and industry.

“They will be coming to share ideas and innovation on how we can prepare ourselves for the Fourth Industrial revolution. They will also share [information on the upcoming] types of networks for 5G networks and what is possible in terms of production for this revolution. It should go beyond just traditional telecommunication companies — it should also attract other sectors of the economy.”

An ICT conference would not be complete without a focus on cyber security, with the Minister conceding that this has become an issue of great importance. There are millions of data out there. We are not just connecting gadgets, we are connecting people and identities so we need to step up [security]. Some of the companies that will be coming from Africa and abroad will deal with how we improve security, he said.

South Africa in 2012 adopted a cyber security framework, which tasked the Department of Telecommunication and Postal Services with assisting private business and the public to deal with the phenomenon.

We are also dealing with cyber awareness, where we educate the general public and youth about the use of technology. It is important to use the internet but be security-wise. Protect yourself. We don’t want to discourage our youth and gogos from using the Internet but we want to instil confidence that as they use it, they won’t expose themselves to the bad guys, Cwele said.

According to the Department of International Relations and Co-operation (DIRCO), the ITU was founded in Paris in 1865 as the International Telegraph Union. The current name “International Telecommunication Union” was decided by the Madrid Plenipotentiary Conference in 1932. ITU activities are governed by the ITU Constitution adopted in 1992 and as revised at the plenipotentiary Conference at Minneapolis, in the United States, in 1998.

South Africa became a member of the ITU in 1881.