23 January 2023
ICT Minister Chairs ATICM 26th Session, Announces Adoption of Arab ICT Strategy

The 26th Session of the Arab Telecommunications and Information Council of Ministers (ATICM) convened today and was chaired by the Minister of Communications and Information Technology Amr Talaat. The meeting was organized by ATICM Technical Secretariat.

In his speech, the ICT Minister announced the adoption of the Arab ICT Strategy, adding that it will serve as a roadmap for the joint Arab action in projects and initiatives that support the Arab region, citizens, and development trajectories, and bridge digital divides.

The ICT Minister thanked the League of Arab States (LAS) Technical Secretariat, the Arab experts representing Member States, and regional organizations that contributed over the past two years to that collaborative work to identify the scope of the strategy, its measurable objectives, and purposes, taking into account the current situation through measurement and governance models.

Talaat commended the outcomes of the working groups of the Arab Permanent Committee for ICT and the Arab Permanent Postal Commission (APPC), especially the groups preparing for the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Plenipotentiary Conference (PP) and Council.

Talaat congratulated the Arab working group on winning eight seats in the ITU Council Membership (2023-2027) for Region D (Africa) and three seats in the Radio Regulations Board (RRB). He looked forward to the Arab efforts in the international arena paying off in the advancement and development of the ICT sector in the Arab region and to its utilization to serve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The ICT Minister highlighted the significance of being prepared with specific and open stances toward urgent issues that emerge in UN and technical negotiations, most notably emerging technologies such as the Metaverse and its applications. Other issues include AI governance in line with global values, FinTech, and Internet-related topics such as Internet safety, digital accessibility, data classification and provision, among others
The ICT Minister referred to the Arab efforts made to confront cybercrimes and promote the united Arab stance on an international agreement on preventing the misuse of information and communications. He invited members of the Council and its observatory bodies to a meaningful dialogue and objective assessment on those issues, which have become at the top of national and regional priorities.

The ICT Minister also praised the Member States and organizations that took concrete steps in those areas and invited them to share their experiences and expertise to benefit the Arab region.

Talaat highlighted the significance of following up and engaging in LAS efforts and the joint Arab action. He looked forward to the ATICM 26th Session having purposeful outcomes in line with regional and international priorities.

The ICT Minister also congratulated Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Affairs at LAS Ali Al-Malki for holding this significant position.

During the meeting, Al-Malki looked forward to fostering fruitful cooperation to support the joint Arab action and working to achieve a breakthrough for Arab nations. He pointed out that the ICT sector needs more investments to develop infrastructures and achieve digital transformation, stressing the significance of developing human calibers in technology.

The Palestinian ICT Minister Ishaq Sider underlined Palestine’s commitment to being present in the Arab arenas, along with brotherly Arab countries. He valued the Arab efforts in prioritizing Palestine’s issues, adding that the Palestinian government strives to develop the ICT sector. He also pointed out that his country enjoys a great variety of talents, calibers, and skills.

For his part, Tunisian Minister of Communication Technologies Nizar Ben Néji referred to the pillars of his Ministry’s strategy. The pillars include enhancing governance, reviewing the regulations and legislations governing the digital sector, and bringing about digital and financial inclusion. This is in addition to developing the telecommunications infrastructure, digitizing administration, improving cybersecurity, building capabilities, strengthening Tunisia’s position as a digitization hub, and developing a national AI program.

The Governor of Communications, Space and Technology Commission (CST) in Saudi Arabia Mohammed Altamimi underscored the significance of enhancing Arab cooperation in the digital field to build a prosperous present and a brighter future. He emphasized that Saudi Arabia is harnessing all its capabilities and expertise for this purpose to ensure providing decent services and innovative digital technologies to achieve the aspirations of leaders and nations.

The Director General of the Telecommunications and Digital Government Regulatory Authority (TDRA) in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Majed Sultan Al Mesmar praised the Arab efforts and coordination during the international events held over the past year as part of ITU activities. He invited the attending members to participate in the World Radiocommunication Conference 2023 (WRC-23), which will be held in Dubai at the end of this year.

Director General of Policies and Governance and Head of the National Space Program at the Omani Ministry of Transport, Communications and Information Technology Saoud Al Shoaili presented the prominent achievements with Muscat being the Arab Digital Capital for 2022. He discussed several aspects, including developing legislations and regulations, adopting digital platforms, expanding the telecommunications infrastructure, building capacities, and raising awareness of digital transformation.

Secretary General at the Ministry of Digital Transition, Innovation and Public Sector Modernisation in Mauritania Sidi Moulaye Zeine referred to his country’s vision and adoption of the digital transformation agenda in line with the digital development goals. He valued the objectives of the Arab Digital Agenda and the proposed measures to achieve them. Zeine looked forward to setting a common strategic vision for cybersecurity in the Arab region and enhancing joint Arab action.

During the Session, the Arab ICT Strategy was adopted. It marks the culmination of the efforts made by experts from Arab countries, in cooperation with LAS, the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), and several UN organizations. The strategy includes five pillars:
- National, regional and international strategic frameworks (developing comprehensive strategies for digital development);
- Infrastructure and legislative environment (enhancing cooperation between Arab countries to enable access to, and improve the quality of, ICT services and regional digital services; developing Internet networks structure, structuring interconnection on national and regional levels, adopting e-signature services and e-transactions nationally and regionally, protecting personal data, and enhancing cybersecurity);
- Digital economy, employment, and trade (encouraging investment in ICT companies, developing and promoting research and development (R&D), observing the ICT sector’s contribution to the national economy, integrating ICT in various productive sectors, increasing the ICT exports of Arab countries, and expanding the e-commerce market);
- Digital transformation and policies of social inclusion (providing affordable access, employing ICT in education and health, and developing e-government infrastructure and services in the Arab countries); and
- Culture and media policies (enriching the Arabic cultural and media online content, registering Arabic domain names, and leveraging social media while reducing its negative impact).
The Session discussed the outcomes of APPC 42nd Session and ATICM 50th Ordinary Session. Moreover, the report and recommendations of the 50th and 51st Ordinary Sessions of ATICM Executive Bureau were adopted.
During the Session, the participants agreed to form ATICM Executive Bureau in its coming term. UAE was selected as Chair of the Executive Bureau and Jordan as Vice Chair. Jerusalem was also announced as the Arab Digital Capital for 2023.
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