Emirates News Agency
The “Consultative Conference and Expert Meetings on the Arab Digital Agenda and the Arab Global Forum for Digital Cooperation and Development” kicked off today at the headquarters of the Mohammed bin Rashid School of Government in Dubai, within the framework of the joint project between the Executive Secretariat of the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) and the General Secretariat of the League of Arab States To set, develop and activate the Arab strategy for information and communication technology (the Arab Digital Agenda).
The conference was organized by the Executive Secretariat of ESCWA with the General Secretariat of the League of Arab States in its hybrid form, both physical and virtual, in partnership with the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority and the Digital Government in the UAE, and the Arab Federation for the Digital Economy, and hosted by the Mohammed bin Rashid School of Government, and in cooperation with partner organizations (Office of the Envoy of the Secretary-General of the United Nations United Technology in New York, Arab Regional Office of the International Telecommunication Union, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, UNESCO office in Cairo, United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs in New York, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in Geneva, World Health Organization – Regional Office For the Eastern Mediterranean, the Arab Organization for Communication and Information Technologies (ICTOA), the Arab Administrative Development Organization (ARADO), the National Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of the Arab Republic of Egypt, the Arab Academy for Science and Technologyand shipping).
The consultative conference and expert meetings dealt with a number of tracks and areas interconnected with the Arab digital agenda, including the track of the national reviews of digital development reports, the Arab digital development report and interconnection with the Arab digital agenda, the digital development maturity model to follow up and monitor progress in its implementation, and the track of the Arab Global Forum for Digital Cooperation and Development Given the role that the forum can play in managing a periodic dialogue on issues included in the Arab digital agenda, and the global tracks it is linked to (the World Summit on the Information Society, the Global Internet Governance Forum, the roadmap for digital cooperation, and the Future Summit 2024).
The activities of the consultative conference and expert meetings also included a special session with the Office of the Envoy of the United Nations Secretary-General for Technology and the first preparatory meeting for the second session of the Arab Global Forum for Digital Cooperation and Development 2023. The Arab Digital Agenda for the period 2023-2033, in preparation for submitting it for approval by the Council of Arab Ministers for Communications and Information in its 26th regular session at the end of December 2022, and then launching it for implementation at the beginning of the first quarter of 2023.
At the beginning of the conference, Minister Plenipotentiary Dr. Khaled Wali, Director of the Communications and Information Systems Development Department at the Arab League, Dr. Ayman El-Sherbiny, Director of Information and Communication Technology Policies, Digital Development and Digital Cooperation at ESCWA, and Dr. Ayman Ghoneim, Assistant Secretary-General of the Arab Federation for the Digital Economy, who thanked the UAE The United Arab Emirates for hosting this event, stressing that this conference serves Arab strategies and the region in comprehensive development, especially with regard to the development of digital economies and the infrastructure associated with them.
The importance of this consultative conference and expert meetings lies in consolidating the collaborative and participatory work among the multiple stakeholders from governmental, non-governmental actors, the private sector, and various groups of society, regarding the formulation and development of goals, targets, indicators and practical, priority and evidence-based political measures to promote digital development aimed at To accelerate the realization of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in the Arab region; In addition to the interdependence between programs, initiatives and projects in the context of the framework of partnerships and collaborative work for the effective and successful implementation of the Arab Digital Agenda for the period 2023-2033.
In a speech on the sidelines of the conference, His Excellency Dr. Ali Mohamed Al-Khouri, Advisor to the Council of Arab Economic Unity and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Arab Federation for the Digital Economy, said that this gathering comes as part of efforts to activate ways and mechanisms of joint Arab action so that Arab countries can activate the Arab digital agenda to ensure the achievement of their ambitious goals.
He added, “We are honored, as an Arab federation concerned with the digital economy, to participate with the General Secretariat of the Arab League and ESCWA at the United Nations in this pivotal two-year project, which seeks and emphasizes the importance of Arab integration.”
He added that the “Arab vision for the digital economy” was among one of its most important pillars, which is the Arab initiative sponsored by His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan , President of the United Arab Emirates, “may God protect him”, and it gained over the past four years a great regional momentum, and today it is on the agenda of the Summit. Arab leaders to be held in Algeria next week.
He said, “As the Arab digital agenda approaches today to complete its final touches, we appreciate the interest of the participating members in discussing the executive mechanisms, which started its first steps today in this conference, which aims, within its objectives, to inform the various business sectors of some of the initiatives proposed within this agenda, and to discuss finding Practical plans and mechanisms for their implementation.
He pointed to two necessary mechanisms to activate such initiatives. The first relates to activating the executive capacity capable of launching such projects and strategic initiatives, especially in the axis of partnership between the government and the private sector, which requires that the general ecological scope be expanded to include all components of this sector, which is the main driver For economic development and its classification in terms of specialization, ability and experience, and the second, which is complementary to the first, which many see as a fundamental dilemma that prevents the implementation and success of initiatives and projects, namely financing and investment.
He pointed out that from the reality of experience and the prevailing trend in most studies and scientific papers, and economic trends.. the basic recommendation is directed to the importance of private and popular financing of projects or what has become called (crowd financing), especially those that are expected to have investment returns, and here it must The government’s role remains pivotal in legislation, empowerment, oversight, preservation of rights and balances, and work to establish the concepts of justice, integrity and transparency while ensuring the right of private sector access to businesses, projects and contracts.
He explained that it is worth noting that the Arab Federation for Digital Economy has taken upon itself to launch a set of initiatives, within the axis of the digital economy in the Arab digital agenda and intersecting with the Arab vision for the digital economy, including the digital education platform in cooperation with the Union of Arab Universities and the Arab Organization for Administrative Development, an initiative that It is followed by His Excellency the Secretary-General of the Arab League in particular, and the e-commerce platform to support commercial activities between companies, which aims to encourage small and medium-sized companies in the fields of export. The Federation takes care of preparing studies, research and specialized reports in various development fields related to the digital economy in particular and the economic situation.
Al-Khoury reviewed with the attendees a proposed recommendation working to establish an Arab alliance or forum that includes all regional and international unions and organizations operating in the Arab region and specialized in the fields of digital technology and the digital economy, so that its main task is to “research and study the launch of technological projects related to the digital economy through a cooperative formula that brings together the private and investment sectors.” “In the Arab region, the Arab Federation for the Digital Economy will work, in coordination and cooperation with partners, to communicate with the relevant authorities for this purpose in an effort to establish this alliance.
He expressed sincere appreciation and gratitude to His Excellency Ahmed Aboul Gheit, Secretary-General of the Arab League, for his support for this conference and his keenness to make every initiative that seeks to support joint Arab action efforts a success. and the Arab Digital Agenda, Minister Plenipotentiary Dr. Khaled Wali, Director of the Communications and Information Systems Development Department at the Arab League, Dr. Ayman El-Sherbiny, Director of Information and Communication Technology Policies, Digital Development and Digital Cooperation at ESCWA.