ITU to hold summit in Belarus to promote digital connectivity in CIS

GENEVA, Nov. 23 (Xinhua) -- The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) will hold a summit on Nov. 26-27 in Minsk, Belarus, to promote digital connectivity in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), the ITU announced on monday.

The conference, called Connect the CIS Summit, is linked to three ITU initiatives: developing infrastructure for wireless broadband Internet, capacity development, and harmonization of the regulatory environment.

"There is the willingness to be present, to contribute to the debate, and hopefully to develop the initiatives even more," said Ferdinando Lagrana, Head of Partnerships at ITU' s Promotion and Membership division, during a press conference in Geneva recently.

More than 500 participants are registered for the summit, including the heads of state from five CIS countries.

"The region has been doing really well in terms of mobile subscriptions," said Esparanza Magpantay, Statistician for ITU's Telecommunications and Development Bureau. The number of mobile cellular subscriptions in the CIS reached 113 percent by the end of 2008, surpassing the number of inhabitants and placing the region second after Europe.

However, "fixed and mobile broadband subscriptions are really low," Magpantay said. They stand at 4.6 percent and 0.9 percent, respectively while the world average is 6.0 percent.

The Connect CIS summit is the second in a series of Connect the World regional events designed to stimulate public-private partnerships and investment to connect the unconnected by 2015. The first summit was held in Kigali, Rwanda in October 2007.

The ITU Connect the World series grew out of the United Nations' World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), which took place in Geneva in 2003 and in Tunisia in 2005.


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