The Middle East offers great investment opportunities in the information and communications technology sector as the region will be investing $300 billion in ICT projects during the next five years, ITU Secretary-General Dr Hamadoun I. Toure said.
Gulf states are taking the lead in developing the ICT services in the region
He said Gulf states are taking the lead in developing the ICT services in the region, as various projects are underway that will boost the telecom, broadband and communication facilities.
Referring to the Middle East region's fast progress on the telecom and IT fronts, he said the UAE is the first country in the world that achieved a 200 per cent penetration in mobile phones.
"Dubai is one of the most well-connected cities in the world. The emirate is an extremely attractive destination to visit and to do business," Dr Toure said.
Oman has evolved national policy on broadband, Bahrain has identified the key areas for development and Qatar is also doing well
He said other Gulf states have also recorded significant development in the ICT sector. "Oman has evolved national policy on broadband, Bahrain has identified the key areas for development and Qatar is also doing well."
Public offering by the Saudi Telecommunications Company to raise a record $10 billion is indicating the investment potential in the region
He said a recent successful initial public offering by the Saudi Telecommunications Company to raise a record $10 billion is indicating the investment potential in the region. However, there is need to frame better policies to attract the private sector and regulate the sector in a better way.
"There is no room for a telecom company that can only offer telecom services, it should be able to able to deliver triple-play every where," he said.
He said broadband is the future and the private sector should come forward to invest in the ICT sector.
"ITU is a good platform to debate and frame the policies. We have provided an opportunity for brainstorming sessions to lay down a foundation for a better place."
About 19% of new property buyers opt to get Internet before a gas connection
Referring to a recent study, he said about 19 per cent of new property buyers opt to get Internet before a gas connection. "Today, this is the world where we are living."
"By developing the ICT sector, we can save the lives of 700,000 children who are dying because of malaria. These lives can be saved if we diagnose the virus within the first 24 hours by using ICT facilities."
Earlier, Nigerian Vice-President Alhaji Namadi Sambo said the ICT sector has made significant progress in the past 10 years. He invited public and private sector investors to come and explore the investment opportunities in the country.
President of Comoros Ikililou Dhoinine also shed light on the importance of ICT development and said its government has allocated $20 million to build up infrastructure and fiber-optic network in the country. He also announced to allow a second telecom operator and second marine cable connection to improve connectivity. "We hope to attract huge investment in public or private sector projects."
Reza Jafari, chairman of the ITU Telecom Board, discussed the four-point strategy involving ecosystem, innovation and leadership to boost ICT facilities in the coming days. He said the ICT sector has completely ignored the role of women for a long time and the policy-makers should involve them in the development of the sector.