Sunday, November 9, 2008

sOUTH aFRICA: Standards-setting abilities add to digital gap between developed, emerging economies

A standardisation development gap "has reared its head" in the information and communication technologies (ICT) sector, with disparities existing between developed and developing countries, South Africa's Minister of Communications Dr Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri asserted on Monday.

Speaking at the World Telecommunications Standardisation Assembly (WTSA) Global Standards Symposium (GSS) in Johannesburg, Matsepe-Casaburri noted that growth in the ICT sector would mainly take place in the developing countries of the world.

"But the ability of developing countries to influence and contribute to international standards setting is almost non-existent, while the ability to access and implement the standards further widens the digital gap between them and the developed countries," commented the Minister.

She stated that leading figures in the ICT sector would hopefully suggest policies and ways of dealing with the standards gap during the WTSA GSS.

Further, the Minister said that these leading figures should also find ways of increasing the involvement of developing countries in the development and implementation of the ICT sector's standards.

"They will have to address the future challenges that will face the standards setting community and the role of the telecommunications standardisation sector in the global standardisation landscape," commented the Minister.

However, she said that, given the rising demand for digital inclusion through accessibility and the reality of climate change, these leading figures would be severely challenged to "seek new pathways, structures, relations and modes of operations and collaboration".