ICT conference in Dubai advances dialogue between government and business

  • 17 October 2007

A high-level conference to debate one of the most pressing issues facing the information and communications technology (ICT) sector – how to put these tools to more use in economic development – was held today in Dubai, a regional ICT hub and the first Gulf state to offer public Internet access.

Under the patronage of Sheikha Lubna al-Qasimi, United Arab Emirates Minister of the Economy, the one-day conference was arranged by ICC’s Business Action to Support the Information Society (BASIS), Talal Abu-Ghazaleh and Co. International and the Union of Arab Chambers of Commerce.

Talal Abu-Ghazaleh, founding chair of BASIS and Chair of ICC’s Commission on E-Business, IT and Telecoms (EBITT), opened the conference, which was attended by regulatory and technical authorities, captains of the ICT industry, major business users, government ministers, heads of global ICT initiatives and technical experts from the region and around the world.

“BASIS has been hard at work since its inception, participating in the formation of and first gatherings of the UN-linked Internet Governance Forum (IGF) and Global Alliance for ICT and Development (GAID), and at high-level industry trade fairs and conferences, spreading the word on the need for more capacity-building to increase participation and for the right frameworks to stimulate greater business investment,” said Mr Abu-Ghazaleh, who is the Chairman and CEO of Talal Abu-Ghazaleh Organization, Egypt, and a board member of the UN Global Compact.

Mr Abu-Ghazaleh spearheaded the planning of the conference to increase the dialogue between government and business and other experts on these important issues.

Members of BASIS and ICC’s EBITT commission actively participated in the conference as panellists and moderators in discussions on a range of issues, from security and information protection, to creating regulatory and policy frameworks to spur investment in ICTs, to delivering the benefits of the Internet to more people.

Joseph Alhadeff, Vice President Global Public Policy and Chief Privacy Officer, Oracle Corporation, USA, who moderated a panel on security and privacy, stated: “Frameworks based on flexible principles increase user confidence while considering the decentralized, global nature of the Internet as well as varying cultural and legal regimes across countries and the economic benefits achieved through free flows of data across borders.”

Summarizing the contributions of the panellists discussing the enabling environment for innovation, investment, competition, and entrepreneurship, moderator Peter Hellmonds, Head of Corporate Social Responsibility, Nokia Siemens Networks, Germany, highlighted the need for forward-looking policies. In order to support economic development, he said, such policies should not micromanage, but should adapt to the speed of innovation, accommodating new business models and allowing disruptive technologies to show their benefits.

Other high-level participants included Guy Sebban, ICC Secretary General; Paul Twomey, President of ICANN; and Markus Kummer, Executive Coordinator of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) secretariat via videoconference from Geneva.

Ms al-Qasimi emphasized the concerted efforts of business and government, working together, to address Internet and ICT related issues, highlighting that business had a huge role to play as an innovator, investor and developer. She said business also had an important role in shaping policy and government played an equally vital role in the creation and advancement of the digital economy by ensuring an enabling environment and implementing technologies to provide improved citizen-centric services and administrative processes.Both the EBITT Commission and BASIS held meetings in Dubai earlier in the week.

BASIS met on 15 October to discuss future strategy and mobilize for the upcoming Internet Governance Forum which will take place in Rio de Janeiro from 12-14 November.

EBITT members took part in a commission meeting on 16 October. At the opening of the meeting, Herbert Heitmann, Senior Vice President, Global Corporate Communications, SAP, Germany, was introduced as the new EBITT Chair. His term will begin on 15 December 2007. Gerard Hartsink, Senior Executive Vice President, ABN-Amro, Netherlands, was welcomed as a new EBITT Vice-Chair. He joined the three other EBITT Vice-Chairs earlier this month.

ICC established BASIS in 2006 to serve as the voice of global business in the international dialogue on how ICTs can better serve as engines of economic growth and social development. With a worldwide membership of companies and associations in a wide range of sectors, BASIS offers business expertise and voices business priorities on ICTs and the Internet in these discussions.
EBITT has longstanding experience developing policy positions and practical tools to enhance understanding among members of government and civil society of business requirements to develop ICTs and the Internet.