March 22, 2021, via videoconferencing

The WSIS Virtual Meeting on Accelerating Digital Transformation was held on March 22, 2021 using the Zoom platform.

The meeting was opened and the participants were welcomed by ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao, who appointed the Chairperson of the WSIS Forum 2021.

Deputy Minister of Digital Development, Communications and Mass Media of the Russian Federation, Chairman of the RCC Commission for Coordination of International Cooperation Maxim Parshin addressed the participants with a welcoming speech as the Chairman of the WSIS Forum.

In particular, he stressed that the WSIS Forum 2021 provides a platform for discussing the role of ICTs as a means of realizing the Sustainable Development Goals and targets, giving due consideration to the development of a framework for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (resolution A / 70 / 1 UNGA).

In addition, the WSIS Forum has served as a tracking platform for the WSIS Action Lines in collaboration with relevant UN agencies, and has been collecting and analyzing relevant information since 2005.

This session discussed issues that need to be addressed by regulators and ICT stakeholders to bridge the digital divide and accelerate digital communications for sustainable development.

The meeting was moderated by Dr. Olga Cavalli, Co-Founder and Academic Director of the Southern School of Internet Governance (Argentina).

The discussion was attended by:

- Stephen Bereaux, Deputy Director of the Telecommunication Development Bureau of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU);

- Masuma Hawari, Minister of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT) of Afghanistan;

- Sanjay Dhotra State Union Minister of Education, Communications, Electronics and Information Technology Ministry of Communications, India;

- Gadzhimurat Khudayguliyev Chairman (Minister) of the Agency "Türkmenaragatnaşyk" (Turkmen Communications) of Turkmenistan;

- Jenfan Muswere, Minister of ICT, Postal and Courier Services, Zimbabwe;

- Sattar Hashemi, Deputy Minister of Information and Communication Technologies of Iran (Islamic Republic of);

- Chenda Tong, Chairman Telecommunications Regulator of Cambodia (TRC);

- Jacek Oko President of the Office of Electronic Communications (UKE), Poland;

- Salma Abbasi, Chairman and CEO of the eWorldwide Group;

- Clarissa Iribagiza, founder and CEO of Xe-Xe company.

Participants' speeches highlighted efforts by government agencies to make telecommunications accessible in light of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. They all noted that the pandemic has caused an increase in the load on the communication lines providing access to the Internet and the transfer of a significant amount of educational programs and medical services online.

In these conditions, restrictions on Internet access can lead to discrimination in obtaining medical care and education, with which the participants in the discussion strongly disagreed. As measures to address this problem, national projects were presented to expand broadband Internet access, examples of encouraging interaction between government bodies and private companies, as well as the development of a competitive environment in the telecommunications sector. Particular attention was paid to the development of online skills among young people, women, as well as vulnerable groups such as the visually impaired. Corresponding state programs have been deployed in Iran, Turkmenistan, Poland and Argentina.

At the end of the meeting, the moderator of the meeting, Olga Cavalli, summed up its results and thanked all the participants for connecting.