ITU Rolls Out Regulatory Guidelines for Digital Transformation


By Emma Okonji

As new technologies evolve, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has released the 2020 Global ICT Regulatory Outlook.

The guidelines include the benchmark of Fifth Generation Collaborative Regulation, a new tool for policymakers and regulators to leverage digital transformation for all through stronger collaboration across sectors.

Speaking about the new regulatory guidelines, ITU Secretary-General, Mr. Houlin Zhao, said: “Collaboration across sectors proves increasingly successful in piloting regulators and policymakers towards broad and inclusive digital transformation. Indeed, digital technologies and services are transforming lives across society – from agriculture to smart water management systems, and ITU stands ready to support regulators and policymakers around the world. The ‘G5 Benchmark’ serves as a compass for regulators on their journey towards digital transformation for all.”

According to him, the benchmark of Fifth Generation Collaborative Regulation, also referred to as the ‘G5 Benchmark’, would help to fast-track collaboration among regulators and policymakers from the ICT sector and other sectors to drive digital transformation for all.
As the ICT landscape is complex and fast moving, the ‘G5 Benchmark’ offers metrics to assess gaps, proposes smart roadmaps through shifting regulatory landscapes, tracks progress and proposes solutions where concrete progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals has proved challenging, Zhao said.

He added that the concept of ‘regulation generations’ would help stakeholders to analyse the maturity of modern regulatory frameworks – from the command and control of first generation (G1) regulation, to a collaborative and harmonised approach in fifth generation (G5) regulation.
The 2020 Global ICT Regulatory Outlook benchmarks regulation across 193 countries worldwide and offers an objective perspective on the latest trends driving ICT policy and regulation. It also highlights six golden rules that accelerate the take-up of mobile broadband and seven rules that boost fixed broadband adoption.

ITU said its findings showed that 16 countries out of 193 now have collaborative regulatory frameworks in place to enable digital transformation for all.

“16 G5 countries now have holistic, forward-looking regulatory frameworks in place set to enable digital transformation across their economies.

“More than half of world’s population is concentrated in G2 and G3 countries, with potential to leapfrog to near universal digital inclusion. Meanwhile, a quarter of countries remain in the G3 category, making progress on stronger policy and regulation, but are unable to unlock the full potential of ICT markets,” Zhao added.

According to him, in just one decade, G4 became the established standard for every ICT regulator, with more than 50 countries in this category. However, 40 per cent of countries languish in G1 or G2 categories, missing development opportunities and increasingly adrift from global digitisation and economic transformation.

The Director of ITU Telecommunication Development Bureau, Doreen Bogdan-Martin, said: “The Global ICT Regulatory Outlook 2020 is as a rich, powerful and practical tool to all of us seeking to build a world of meaningful connectivity through regulation that is open across sectors, and above all, collaborative.

“It lays out clearly the trends, the challenges and the opportunities before the regulatory community in 2020 and continues to set out the decades-long ICT regulation story as our industry develops and responds to major world crises like the 2008 financial crash and COVID-19.”
Comparing the Global ICT Regulatory Outlook 2020 with regional regulations, Zhao said regulatory frameworks in Africa have evolved the most over the past ten years.

According to him, as of 2018, only two African nations remained in the G1 category.

“Africa’s score has kept pace with the rise in world averages, and has exceeded averages of the Arab States, and Asia-Pacific.
In the Americas, over a third of countries have now achieved the highest G4 and G5 generations of regulation.

“Between 2007 and 2018, the region increased its average score more than all other regions, with thirteen countries now having attained G4 status.