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South Africa is to host ITU Telecom World in 2018, it has been announced.
The move will mark the first time that the United Nations event, dubbed the most prestigious gathering in global telecommunications, will be held in Africa since its inception in 1971.
Her Excellency Nozuko Gloria BAM, Ambassador of South Africa to South Korea, where the event was held this year, told AB2020 she believes her country won the 2018 bid because: ‘South Africa has created a number of innovation centres and have a large number of young people who are being given opportunities to excel. We’ve really prioritised education and promoted science and technology as areas for development.
‘And of course because of the beauty of our country.’
ITU brings together leading telecoms experts from the public and private sectors, heads of state, ministers, regulators and CEOs of multinational corporations.The 2018 event is expected to take place in Durban and attract up to 9 000 delegates.
‘We’re inviting you all to join us,’ Her Excellency said. ‘We’re able to pull a lot of countries to participate because they want to invest and form partnerships with Africa. So we will use the platform to create more opportunities for Africans.’
Her Excellency also emphasised the importance of African leaders supporting local technology talent. ‘If anyone were to see a Head of State carrying a mobile phone device designed and developed by their own county, that would already be a platform to market that entrepreneur.
’It requires all of us to make a conscious decision that says, we will market them because they don’t have the resources to market themselves.’
She adds: ’It’s completely wrong to think that we do not have the skills in Africa to develop products like Samsung or iPhone. You can go to any country in Africa and people are talking about their National development plans, which include innovation and spending on resources to develop our young generation. We have the capacity to do it ourselves.
‘When I interact with other ambassadors and Koreans, the one thing they respect Africans for is our ability to do things for ourselves. And even with ICT we can do it ourselves.
‘It starts by us recognising the little we have and developing on it. Then taking the decision to trade among ourselves. How do rich nations manage to get to where they are? They start by investing in one another and trading with one another. This is what the Koreans are doing, they trade with their neighbours. And this is why they’re able to be where they are today. We should be doing the same as Africans.
‘This requires leadership and a change of mindset. All of us as leaders need to do our best to say that we will develop and market our own, we should not be going to others all the time. Let’s do it for ourselves.’
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