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ITU conference opens with call for global connectivity

UN telecoms body hosting first Plenipotentiary Conference in the UAE

ITU conference opens with call for global connectivity
Houlin Zhao, ITU Secretary-General, addressing the ITU Plenipotentiary Conference.

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the UN body which governs telecoms, has officially launched its first Plenipotentiary Conference in the UAE.

The ITU's 20th Plenipotentiary Conference (known as PP-18) opened on Monday with a global call for the world to "act as one" to connect the world's nearly four billion people who remain unconnected to the Internet.

Held every four years, the event kicked off at the Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) in Dubai, and will run until 16th November.

"Holding the ITU Plenipotentiary Conference in the United Arab Emirates is a testament from the ITU and the international telecommunications community to the UAE's achievements in the field of rational use of telecommunications technology for the benefit of humanity, state building, as well as the economy and civilisation," said HE Talal Humaid Belhoul, chair of the Board of Directors of the UAE Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA), on behalf of the Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

Houlin Zhao, ITU Secretary-General, said more. "New technologies like 5G, artificial intelligence, big data and the Internet of Things will change how we live, work and learn in ways that have yet to be imagined," he said. "And ITU is in the front seat. The challenge before us today is to ensure that these technologies and ICTs in general continue to be a source for good for everyone across the world."

The Plenipotentiary Conference is the highest decision-making body of ITU, the United Nations specialised agency for information and communications technology (ICT). The conference is the key event at which ITU member states build consensus on key international ICT issues, elect leaders for top posts, and decide on a roadmap for the ITU's work over the next four years, including strategic and financial plans.

"We face a crucial challenge: harnessing the benefits of new technologies for all, while safeguarding against the risks from their misuse," said United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, in a video message to the global audience. "Together, we can nurture a digital future that is safe and beneficial for all."

More than 2,500 participants are expected to attend PP-18 during its duration.

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