ITU’s Road to Addis Series to Focus on Global Connectivity

2021 World Telecommunication Development Conference. Photo: ITU
2021 World Telecommunication Development Conference. Photo: ITU

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has launched the Road to Addis, a series of events organized to build momentum towards the 2021 World Telecommunication Development Conference (WTDC-21), scheduled to take place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, from 8 to 19 November 2021.

ITU also announced its new youth initiative – “Generation Connect: our future is just a click away​” – to increase youth engagement in preparation for a global youth summit that will precede WTDC-21.

The Road to Addis series will serve as a platform to discuss key themes to be addressed at WTDC-21. It will focus on advancing global connectivity and accelerating the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through six key enablers: partnerships, youth, innovation, leadership, financing, and inclusion.

WTDC is a unique opportunity for the global community to develop innovative approaches and forge new models of collaboration to accelerate connectivity and digital solutions in this final Decade of Action to achieve the SDGs.

“I want to thank the Government of Ethiopia for bringing WTDC-21 to Addis Ababa next year,” said ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao. “As we enter the Decade of Action, WTDC-21 is the opportunity to mobilize the global community around the power of digital transformation and reshape the connectivity agenda to achieve the SDGs.”

Especially in developing countries, young people represent a large percentage of the population. In Africa, 60% of the entire continent is aged below 25 and youth aged 15-24 represent 20% of its population.

Generation Connect joins the existing initiatives, such as Generation Equality and Generation Unlimited, to put the voices of youth at the forefront. It will play a key role in shaping the preparations for the global youth summit preceding WTDC-21.

The first session of The Road to Addis held on 9 November 2020 formally launched the WTDC-21 countdown and the Generation Connect. The session featured keynote speeches by high-level representatives of ITU and Ethiopia, as well as the virtual signing of the WTDC-21 Host Country Agreement.

It introduced the role of WTDC in helping to advance connectivity for all and it presented today’s global digital development challenges and opportunities, as well as solutions for discussions at WTDC-21.

The International Telecommunication Union, through its Telecommunication Development Bureau, organizes a World Telecommunication Development Conference (WTDC) every four years in the period between two Plenipotentiary Conferences to discuss and consider topics, projects and programmes relevant to telecommunication development and to provide direction and guidance to the Telecommunication Development Bureau.

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Rakesh Raman