The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) opened a new Area Office and Innovation Center to drive technology uptake for sustainable development across South Asia. The ITU Area Office and Innovation Center aims to strengthen technology cooperation and boost regional telecommunications development.
Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, inaugurated the new ITU Area Office along with other ICT developments such as the 6G mission and testbed agenda, as well as the “Call Before u Dig” mobile application.
“With tremendous gratitude for the generous support of India, ITU is now able to work even closer to the people it serves," said ITU Secretary-General Doreen Bogdan-Martin. “Meaningful connectivity and innovation are tightly linked, and we will use our new presence in South Asia to expand the benefits of digital technology for everyone, everywhere."
Through its presence, ITU hopes to advance shared regional priorities, such as reducing disparities between developing and developed countries in terms of Internet access, digital skills and other socio-economic indicators after the COVID-19 pandemic.
The new office in New Delhi will implement ITU initiatives and provide technical assistance and policy guidance on information and communication technologies (ICTs) in South Asia. The ITU South Asia team is contributing to the development of ICT/telecommunication networks and services in South Asia and implementing other activities related to the ITU's mandate to connect the world and support the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
India and ITU signed a Host Country Agreement (HCA) in March 2022 for the establishment of an Area Office and Innovation Center in India. The ITU Area Office in India will have an embedded Innovation Center that sets it apart from other offices. The location of the Area Office and Innovation Center will be the second floor of the existing building of the Center for Development of Telematics (C-DoT) at Mehrauli, New Delhi. ITU regional and area offices report to the Director of ITU's Telecommunication Development Bureau. The mobile telecommunications system in India is the second-largest in the world.
Ms. Atsuko Okuda, regional director of the ITU Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, noted, “As countries in the region are emerging from socioeconomic challenges, there is a high expectation that digital innovation will accelerate economic growth and inclusive and sustainable development. There is no better place than India, which can showcase how digital innovation and its ecosystem are driving qualitative transformation in society and [the] economy. We look forward to active engagement with ITU members and partners through the Area Office and Innovation Centre.”
The new Area Office in India is expected to enable the ITU to better serve its membership in Asia and the Pacific by:
- Promoting the introduction of advanced technologies
- Contributing to the development of ICT/telecommunication networks and services in South Asia
- Providing technical assistance in relation to infrastructure, e-governance and cross-sectoral ICT applications
- Assisting with human resources and capacity development
- Conducting other activities related to ITU's mandate to connect the world and support the UN Sustainable Development Goals
Meanwhile, the Innovation Center will serve as a platform for the exchange of ideas, success stories, innovative solutions and global endeavors, one aimed at accelerating digital transformation and promoting inclusive sustainable development in the region. To achieve this mission, the Innovation Center will engage with stakeholders in four strategic objectives:
- Strategic foresight;
- Open technology innovation;
- Growth of SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises) and Entrepreneurship; and
- Policy experimentation.