The economic opportunities of innovative information and communication technologies (ICTs) such as the Internet of Things, cloud computing, artificial intelligence and smart data for smart sustainable cities were recognised last week in Hammamet, Tunisia at the 15th edition of the ITU World Telecommunication/ICT Indicators Symposium (WTIS‐17) — the main international forum for telecommunication and information society measurements worldwide. Symposium participants included key ICT stakeholders from around the globe representing governments, telecommunication regulatory authorities, national statistics offices, private companies and research institutions.

“We are very pleased to host WTIS-17 in Tunisia this year,” said H.E. Dr Mohamed Anouar Maarouf, Minister of Communication Technologies and Digital Economy of the Republic of Tunisia. “ICT statistics are key to countries’ development. In Tunisia, for example, we propose to strengthen training programmes on statistical indicators to better respond to the needs and expectations of developing countries.”

“Information and communication technologies are driving global development in an unprecedented way, providing huge opportunities for social and economic development,” said Houlin Zhao, ITU Secretary-General. “WTIS-17 was held after the successful completion of the World Telecommunication Development Conference where participants adopted a forward-looking agenda to advance the use of ICTs to achieve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. The debates and discussions that took place at this Symposium will also go a long way to unlock the potential of ICTs for development.”

WTIS‐17 featured a high-level panel that discussed the importance of data in creating a healthy investment environment, especially in developing countries. Other sessions at WTIS-17 focused on key topics such as: new metrics for broadband and cybersecurity; new data needs for the digital economy, ICT skills, e-waste, and tracking Big Data; as well as innovative technologies, including the Internet of Things, cloud computing, artificial intelligence and smart data for smart sustainable cities.

Mr Brahima Sanou, Director of the ITU Telecommunication Development Bureau (BDT), said that, “WTIS-17 reinforced the importance of good data on current and emerging technologies and its role in creating economic opportunities.” He added that, “During the Symposium, participants highlighted that collaboration across sectors was equally important for the adoption of metrics measuring different areas that impact everyday life.”