Minister Siyabonga Cwele: Hosting of International Telecommunication Union Telecom World Conference

Media Statement on the hosting of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Telecom World Conference for first on the African continent

Deputy Directors-General
Our partners and sponsors in hosting this global event
Leaders of State-Owned Companies in our portfolio
Leaders in the ICT sector
Members of the media
Ladies and gentlemen

This very important engagement with you comes as we prepare to host the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Telecom World Conference which the country is hosting in Durban on 10 - 13 September 2018 at the iNkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre. The conference is expected to attract 7 000 delegates and exhibitors.

We are hosting this event on behalf of the government in partnership with the ITU, KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Government, the City of eThekwini and our sponsors. Our host country partner is MTN.

We are fortunate to be hosting this event in the year in which we celebrate the lives of Tata Nelson Mandela and Mama Albertina Sisulu. Mandela was the first president of the democratic SA to address World Telecommunications Conference and Exhibition (ITU event) in Geneva in 1995. In his speech, Mandela said it was crucial for South Africa and the entire African continent to be part of the organisation that would drive international policy, technological development, co-operation and skills transfer.

We must find the courage to look beyond our narrow interests which may be political gain or maximising profits. This requires that we find innovative ways of transforming the sector by making it more inclusive. We must have more black young women who enter and remain in the sector. We must have more young people operating in the sector. We must have more people in rural communities having a greater stake in the sector.

The ITU Telecom World provides us with an opportunity to make meaningful headways in this direction. The conference is global festival of ideas on new and emerging technology which include 5G. It is a World Cup of the best ideas in the technology sector and best ideas are those that will impact the majority of world.

It is helping us to advance our ambitions as a country that is open for business by providing a platform to attract investment while enabling us to play a role in advancing the developmental agenda at multilateral organisations. We want to reiterate that SA is open for business. We shall use the platform to attract new investment into the country towards the President’s target of US$100 billion  investment over the next five years. We hope that some of these companies will participate at the investment summit in October.

The conference brings together government leaders, policy makers, law makers and entrepreneurs to explore challenges, partnerships, solutions, and identify investment opportunities and best practices for socio-economic development through Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs). Already 39 Ministers have confirmed their participation at the event. The conference aims to deliver economic development and foster social good through its exhibition for digital solutions, and forum for sharing knowledge and networking. The theme for this year is “Innovation for a Smarter Digital Development”

The conference will offer an opportunity to showcase their capabilities as the continent prepares for the Fourth Industrial Revolution. They will be showcasing their home grown innovations in ICTS.

During the ITU Telecom World, entrepreneurs from South Africa and the continent will have a glorious opportunity to showcase their best innovations as the continent seeks to migrate from being just consumers to producers of ICTs.

Working with our partners, we are providing support over 50 SMMEs to exhibit at the conference. In additional other multinational companies will bring SMMES from Africa and the rest of the world. These companies are in fields such as analytics, automation of performance management, geolocation of animals. These SMMEs are at different stages of development.

They are ready to dazzle the world. They have been mentored on how to pitch their ideas to investors. Beyond the conference, the department and partners will provide them with financial and business support as they journey to their next levels.

As a continent, we can migrate to being producers and be at the cutting edge of technology if we invest in intellectual property. The ITU Telecom World has committed to assist the continent to achieve this in various ways through the legacy projects.

The ITU has agreed to support us in setting up the African Digital Transformation Centre which will be launched at the Durban Conference.

The Department has engaged various national and international stakeholders in both the public and private sectors. The Centre has been conceptualised as an ecosystem upon which multi-stakeholder groups of experts conduct research, identify new approaches to policy development, explore ways of supporting innovation, consider new forms of funding support for start-ups and facilitate partnerships between established business and SMMEs.

This would enable the Centre to maintain oversight while also benefiting from a larger ecosystem of institutions, which will be critical in managing the sheer scale of engagement and implementation that will be required.

The Centre is anchored around four pillars, namely:

  • Policy and governance
  • Innovations and SMMEs
  • Connecting the unconnected
  • Social impact of digital transformation

The Centre will work with institutions of higher learning, which can champion each of the pillars.

The goal of the Centre is to enable to entrepreneurs to keep their intellectual capital on the continent while ensuring that their innovations are tested and standardised on the continent. 

 Other legacy projects include the following;

1. ICT SMME Incubation Centre – Dube Trade Port and Innovation Hub Pretoria

The Department and partnership intend to set-up a Tech SMME Incubation centres at the Dube Trade Port, KZN and the Innovation Hub, Pretoria. These centres will be hosted in an environment which will enable the building of solutions, and the ability to transform innovative ideas of SMMEs into real projects. The facility will grow into a space that allows sponsored SMMEs to build and stage their ideas. SMMEs using the facilities will be contracted on an agreed timeline to get their ideas to prototype level.

Through various partnerships, the Department and Cisco hopes to develop current and cultivate new SMMEs in the ICT space and help them enter, grow and compete in the market. These centres will be launched simultaneously during the ITU Telecom World 2018.

2. Dube Tech Park ICT Refurbishment Project Linked To SMMEs

The Department in partnership with industry will establish a refurbishment centre in KZN. The centre will refurbish in-warranty and out-of-warranty ICT gadgets including mobile phones, tablets, etc. SMMEs will be identified, trained and equipped to run the centre

The conference will discuss issues which include the following;

  • Addressing the risks of a smarter world
  • Financing digital development
  • Government: enabling smarter digital development
  • High Level African Investment Dialogue
  • High Level Expert Roundtable on Promoting ICT opportunities for Women Empowerment
  • Spectrum challenges: preparing for WRC-19
  • 5G for a smarter world
  • Powering smart: the Internet of Things

Ladies and gentlemen,

South Africa is ready to open her doors and welcome the ICT world. We thank our private sector sponsors for making Mandela’s dream of hosting such a global event on our shores.

Thank you.

Share this page

Similar categories to explore