Displaying items by tag: UN

Latin American telcos band together to achieve UN SDGs

Written on Tuesday, 03 October 2017 10:11

Ecuador’s Telecommunications Regulation and Control Agency (ARCOTEL) and the GSMA have launched the “We Care Ecuador” campaign to set up local actions by telcos that will help achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Operators Claro, CNT EP and Telefónica Movistar have banded together on a coordinated awareness campaign via social networks, digital media and websites to help create a culture of prevention in vulnerable areas and reinforce good practices during emergencies.

The GSMA and ARCOTEL will also work together to step up the fight against handset theft. They will support the ARCOTEL initiative Tu Celular Legal exchanging regional good practices and the global experience of the GSMA IMEI database, a global central database containing basic information on the serial number (IMEI) ranges of millions of mobile devices (e.g. mobile phones, laptop data cards, etc.) in use across the globe.

“As a mobile ecosystem, we’re focusing on supporting communities during crisis or natural disasters and tackling the daily scourge of mobile phone theft, continually aiming to help reach the SDGs by fully leveraging mobile technology,” said Sebastián Cabello, Head of GSMA Latin America.

The mobile industry in Ecuador will jointly work with authorities to improve the disaster preparedness and response, according to the GSMA. During the earthquake in April 2016, the country’s mobile operators mobilized technicians and vehicles to provide satellite phones, water, phone chargers and internet service to affected areas.

They also installed temporary base stations, provided power generators and offered discounts and free calls and texting, among other actions to facilitate communications access to users in affected areas. Ecuador’s Secretary of Risk Management said that by 22 April 2016 (six days after the earthquake), 84 percent of telecommunications had been reestablished in Manabí, and in Esmeraldas and Guayas, they were fully restored.

“Joining “We Care Ecuador” reaffirms our willingness to collaborate and encourage a culture of preparedness and response for situations that can put lives at risk,” said Victor García, Director of Regulatory Affairs, Claro. “The mobile industry contribution to improving people’s quality of life is even more evident in actions that help to improve public safety, both in times of natural disaster and in working with the authorities to tackle handset theft.

José Manuel Casas, CEO of Telefónica Ecuador, said: “I reiterate my gratitude and my pride in the work of everyone at Telefónica and the pledge to the country. In record time we set up vital telecommunications services, sent out vehicles that covered the worst hit areas, provided free calls and built seven Proniño centers to teach, entertain and support children affected by the tragedy. This shows what we’re capable of. If we’re united and focused, we’ll achieve our objectives, fully in line with the SDGs.”

Underscoring the mobile industry commitment to the SDGs, the GSMA “We Care” campaign is an initiative of the region’s leading mobile operators to ensure all their users can enjoy the life-changing benefits of mobile technology in a safe and secure environment.

To achieve this, operators have joined forces as an industry and taken on a series of commitments in every country in the region where mobile phones and networks can provide solutions to social problems.

The initiative has been launched in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Peru and the Dominican Republic, and will continue to expand across the region.

Published in Telecom Operators

Ooredoo reaffirms its commitment to reduce digital inequality

Written on Tuesday, 26 September 2017 11:34

Ooredoo was recognized for its commitment to reduce digital inequality in the UN Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development’s ‘The State of Broadband 2017: Broadband Catalyzing Sustainable Development’ report. Ooredoo’s commitment to reduce digital inequality stems from its core mission to make the internet accessible and enjoyable for everyone, the company said in a release.

According to the report, while 48 percent of the global population is now online, some 3.9 billion people still do not have internet access, with the digital gap growing between developed and developing countries. In addition, only 76 percent of the world’s population lives within access of a 3G signal, and only 43 percent of people within access of a 4G connection.

“The report shines a crucial light on the ongoing global challenge to help people across the world access the life-changing benefits of internet access,” said Sheikh Saud Bin Nasser Al Thani, Group CEO at Ooredoo.

“At Ooredoo, we continue to invest in mobile technology, people and resources that enable our communities – in particular underserved women and youth – to enjoy the internet and use it as a means to improve their lives and achieve their full potential,” he added.

“As we deploy the power of digital technology to give people access to the services and support they need, we urge governments, operators and regulators to continue working closely together to address the deepening digital inequality in global connectivity.”

Ooredoo’s commitment to digital equality is highlighted in the report with several examples of the Qatar-based operator’s efforts to harness broadband for sustainable development.

The examples include Ooredoo Myanmar’s mAgri app Site Phyo, an app that provides farmers with localized weather information and best practices for growing and maintaining specific crops;  and Ooredoo Maldives Smart Campus, an end-to-end solution for distance education offered in partnership with Microsoft, which enables educators to maintain their curriculums online.

The report also highlights Indosat Ooredoo’s Indonesia Belajar, a digital education program that aims to use technology to help make education more available and accessible for children across Indonesia.

Delivery of this commitment rests on Ooredoo maintaining cutting-edge mobile technology across its global footprint, in both developed and developing markets. As such, Ooredoo has continued to invest in 5G-ready networks and in 2016, completed network modernization programs across all of the 10 countries it operates in. 

Issued annually, ‘The State of Broadband’ report is a unique global snapshot of broadband network access and affordability, with country-by-country data measuring broadband access against key advocacy targets set by the Commission in 2011.

The report also examines global trends in broadband connectivity and technologies, reflects on policy and regulatory developments, as well as the applications of broadband for sustainable development. It also presents several policy recommendations.

Published in Telecom Operators

UN Environment signs MoU with Safaricom to tackle UN SDGs

Written on Monday, 04 September 2017 06:24

The United Nations (UN) Environment Program, an agency that coordinates the UN’s environment activities, recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Safaricom, Kenya’s largest telecommunications provider, aimed at heightening the implementation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which focus on protecting and conserving the environment.

UN Environment has urged Kenya’s private sector to collaborate with them in implementation of the SDGs that will help curb climate change. The 17 SDGs cover areas such as climate change, economic inequality, innovation, sustainable consumption, peace and justice, among other priorities. The goals are interconnected – often the key to success on one will involve tackling issues more commonly associated with another.

Currently, UN Environment is working closely with the private sector through various initiatives, such as the Finance Initiative, which works with over 200 institutions to bring systemic change in global finance for sustainability.

“The private sector, whether a small store or a major conglomerate, must be given a place at the heart of our work,” said Erik Solheim, head of UN Environment, speaking during the MoU signing between Safaricom and UN Environment. “Its energy and its innovations will shape the success or failure of our common goals: to build a more inclusive, resilient and sustainable world. No organization, not even the United Nations, can do this alone.”

Bob Collymore, CEO of Safaricom, said, “As a purpose driven organization, we realize that it is important to use the SDGs as a lens through which we can do business while ensuring that we are also creating the basis for tangible change for our communities. Over the last few months we began the journey of adopting and integrating the SDGs in a way that made sense for the various divisions in our business.”

The MoU will provide a framework of cooperation and understanding, and facilitate collaboration and implementation of activities and projects that contribute to selected areas of the SDGs. The selected SDGs include Affordable and Clean Energy, Sustainable Cities and Communities, Responsible Consumption and Production, Climate Action, Life Below Water, and Partnerships.

Cybersecurity is once again under intense scrutiny and focus following a spate of recent hacking scandals and crises which have engulfed the ICT sector. The global ransomware attacks served only to show that many nations are still extremely vulnerable to cyber-attacks which can completely destabilize major organizations and institutions, such as the NHS in the UK, which is a high-profile victim of the recent ransomware attack.

However, a survey conducted by the ITU on cybersecurity has once again unearthed some worrying statistics over the practices and defenses some of the world’s leading countries have in place to combat the on-going cyber-threat.

The UN revealed that Singapore has a near-perfect approach to cybersecurity, but alarming many other economically prosperous countries have holes in their defenses, and some poorer countries are showing them what approach they should adopt when it comes to cybersecurity. According to the ITU, wealth breeds cybercrime, but it does not necessarily generate cybersecurity, so it has insisted that governments must ensure they are prepared for attacks at any time.

A spokesman for the ITU survey said, “There is still an evident gap between countries in terms of awareness, understanding, knowledge and finally capacity to deploy the proper strategies, capabilities and programs.”

Singapore came out on top of the ITU’s Global Cybersecurity Index survey, and whilst the United States was ranked second, many other high profile and influential countries were rated poorly, lagging behind many developing nations and economies.

The rest of the top 10 were Malaysia, Oman, Estonia, Mauritius, Australia, Georgia, France and Canada. Russia ranked 11th. India was 25th, one place ahead of Germany, and China was 34th. It was disclosed that ranking was based on each countries’ legal, technical and organizational institutions and their research and educational capabilities. In addition to this, their cooperation in information-sharing networks was also examined.

The ITU added, "Cybersecurity is an ecosystem where laws, organizations, skills, cooperation and technical implementation need to be in harmony to be most effective. The degree of interconnectivity of networks implies that anything and everything can be exposed, and everything from national critical infrastructure to our basic human rights can be compromised."

The ITU also stressed the critical importance of adopting and implementing a national security strategy, but added that 50% of countries have none. Amongst some of the countries that placed higher than their economic development was 57th placed North Korea;  however, it’s been suggested they were let down by its cooperation score, but still ranked three spots ahead of the much-richer Spain.

The smallest rich countries also scored badly - Andorra, Liechtenstein, Monaco and San Marino were all well down the second half of the table. The Vatican ranked 186th out of 195 countries in the survey. But no country did worse than Equatorial Guinea, which scored zero.

Finnish Telecommunications giants Nokia have partnered with The Humanitarian Cooperative to create a powerful virtual reality film to highlight and raise awareness of the ongoing refuge crisis in Syria. The film was screened at a United Nations Refugee Agency event in Geneva, Switzerland.

The short documentary showed how innovative technologies can enable new ways to raise awareness of humanitarian causes and promotes dialogue on these issues. The ten-minute production was captured with a Nokia OZO, the world’s first camera purpose-built for professionals – which chartered the journey in the life of a nine year old Syrian refugee who has been resettled in Finland.

Around the world, the number of people affected by conflict and persecution unfortunately shows no sign of abating and has worsened in recent years. Today, more than 65 million people are displaced either inside their own country or as refugees. UNHCR works to protect refugees, the internally displaced and stateless people. To support these efforts, and to promote dialogue on the plight of these people, Nokia collaborated with talented filmmakers to find new ways of raising awareness of these human catastrophes.

Equipped with Nokia's professional virtual reality camera OZO, filmmakers David Gough and Thomas Maddens embarked on a journey to tell the story of Omar, a 9-year-old Syrian boy who had to leave his home just outside Aleppo and spent three years at a refugee camp in Lebanon, before finally being resettled in Finland.

Screening today at the ninth annual UNHCR High Commissioner's Dialogue on Protection Challenges in Geneva, Switzerland, the short film is captured by OZO in premium 3D 360 audio and video, providing the audience with a truly immersive experience of the harrowing life of a refugee. The joint production is an example of how new, innovative technologies are changing the way people communicate and empathize with each other, and shows how technology can be used to support humanitarian causes around the world.

Head of video at UNHCR, Edith Champagne feels the film is the perfect way to illustrate the courage shown by refugees and indicates evidently the struggles and hardships faced by fleeing refugees.

She said: “This production was a way to tell a very human and touching story with the latest video technology. Omar and his family were resettled in Finland after fleeing Syria, but every day countless families and children fleeing conflict are on the move, in urgent need of safety and protection. The opportunity Nokia offered UNHCR and the Humanitarian Cooperative has resulted in a powerful approach to bringing the courage and resilience of refugees to new audiences."

Filmmaker David Cough explained that he felt the film represented a different prospective on the way you can tell important human stories through the concept of virtual reality.

Gough said: “It’s more important now more than ever to look for new ways to tell humanitarian stories and none is more pressing right now than the refugee crisis. Working with the Nokia OZO camera and UNHCR on this project has been a huge step forward for us at The Humanitarian Cooperative in the way we can use virtual reality to tell human stories."

Head of Corporate Affairs at Nokia, Minna Alia, explained that she felt Nokia’s technology conveys the harsh reality of life inside a refugee camp, and said the film was designed to impact and provoke viewers all over the world in thinking how they would react if it happened to them.

She said: “Our technology helps convey the daily reality of life in a refugee camp, prompting viewers to think about how they would react if it happened to them, and how they would want the world to react. Nokia's ambition is to create technology that serves mankind; it's not only about making tech human, but making it humanitarian as well."

The film will be made available to the public in January 2017. A short trailer gives a glimpse of the story behind the project which can be watched below.

Published in Telecom Vendors

UN says Asian fixed broadband disparity “alarming”

Written on Tuesday, 23 August 2016 05:26

The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) has warned of a widening digital divide between high-income and low-income countries in Asia, saying that fixed broadband penetration is only about two percent in 20 Asian countries.

Its findings are contained in a new report State of ICT in Asia and the Pacific 2016: Uncovering the Widening Broadband Divide. In it ESCAP says that, unless targeted policy interventions are put in place, the trend will continue to the detriment of future development opportunities.

United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of ESCAP, Dr. Shamshad Akhtar, said broadband connectivity was a critical foundation for the digital economy and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals in Asia-Pacific, adding that ESCAP was working with member states to improve broadband access for countries in the region.

“As a result of this digital divide, millions of people are shut out from transformative digital opportunities in education, health, business and financial services,” Akhtar said.

“In response to the widening gap, ESCAP is promoting the Asia-Pacific Information Superhighway (AP-IS) initiative, to increase the availability and affordability of broadband Internet across Asia and the Pacific, by strengthening the underlying Internet infrastructure in the region.”

According to the ESCAP web site, AP-IS “encompasses regional Internet maps and policy analysis to support countries in their efforts to develop a regional seamless information and communication space.”

These maps “feature terrestrial Internet infrastructure, including optical fiber and wireless networks, as well as the various segments of the Asian Highway and Trans-Asian Railway …[allowing] policymakers to identify weak points in terrestrial broadband infrastructure, as well as opportunities for cross-sectoral infrastructure development.”

ESCAP says its report shows that e-commerce strongly correlates with access to fixed broadband connectivity, suggesting that enhancing ICT infrastructure connectivity would increase business-to-business e-commerce in the region.

The Report also examined emerging trends in developing online content, differential patterns of mobile broadband expansion and usage, as well as the impact of regulatory quality and investment in broadband adoption. It will serve as the basis for the inaugural ESCAP Committee on ICT, Science, Technology and Innovation to be held from 5 to 7 October 2016 in Bangkok, Thailand.

Published in Government