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India Shaping Telecommunications: Co-chair of ITU’s Digital Innovation Board

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India’s prominent role in shaping the global telecommunications landscape was reinforced as Dr Neeraj Mittal, Secretary of the Department of Telecommunications, Government of India, led a high-level delegation to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Headquarters in Geneva.

Image credits: Press Information Bureau

Dr Neeraj Mittal’s election as Co-chair of the Digital Innovation Board of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) represents a significant milestone, underscoring India’s prominent leadership role in fostering digital innovation on the global stage. This appointment not only acknowledges India’s expertise and contributions in the field of telecommunications but also reflects its commitment to driving transformative initiatives that leverage technology for socio-economic development and inclusive growth worldwide

The Digital Innovation Board, formed under the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Alliance for Digital Development, comprises Ministers and Vice Ministers of Telecom/ICT from 23 ITU member countries. It aims to provide strategic guidance and advocacy for fostering innovation and entrepreneurship in digital development, crucial for creating a more inclusive and equitable digital future.

The visit, aimed at fostering collaboration and exploring innovative initiatives in the telecommunications and information and communication technology (ICT) sectors, yielded several significant outcomes.

Discussions during the visit centred on scaling up ITU Area Office India, Digital Innovation Board, Digital Transformation Lab, Acceleration centres, and the Global Innovation Centre in India. Agreements were reached on various initiatives aimed at enhancing collaboration and innovation in the telecommunications sector. These initiatives are poised to play a pivotal role in accelerating the digital transformation journey of India and other member countries.

Furthermore, the visit emphasised India’s increased participation in ITU activities. Efforts to engage academia and industry members from India were discussed, with a focus on enhancing India’s contributions to the global telecommunications agenda. Bilateral meetings with Japan and Bahrain yielded proposals for collaborations on various fronts, including AI, 5G use cases, cybersecurity, and the development of the Data Embassy. These partnerships underscore India’s commitment to fostering international cooperation and leveraging technology for mutual socio-economic benefit.

The bilateral meeting with Japan, co-chaired by Dr. Mittal and Mr. Hiroshi Yoshida, Vice Minister, Minister of Internal Affairs and Communications, Japan, reviewed engagements between India and Japan in the telecom and ICT sectors. Both parties proposed active collaboration on AI, 5G use cases, and Quantum Products certification. They stressed the need for collaboration to develop a framework on trusted products and agreed to operationalise sub-working groups on 5G use cases and massive MIMO under the India-Japan Joint Working Group on ICT.

Similarly, the bilateral meeting with Bahrain, co-chaired by Dr Mittal and Mr Mohammed Bin Thamir, Minister of Transport and Telecom of the Kingdom of Bahrain, explored opportunities for collaboration in the ICT sector. Both countries decided to actively collaborate in areas such as Artificial Intelligence, 5G use cases, Cybersecurity, and the development of the Data Embassy. Additionally, discussions revolved around revisiting the MoU on ICT between the two countries that lapsed in 2015. India proposed sharing the TEC standard on Fairness Assessment and Rating of Artificial Intelligence Systems and status notes on the regulatory sandbox with Bahrain.

The visit to the ITU Headquarters and the outcomes achieved therein underscore India’s proactive approach to shaping global telecommunications policies and leveraging innovation for socio-economic progress. Through active engagement and collaboration with international partners, India aims to harness the power of technology for inclusive growth and sustainable development on a global scale.

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