WITSA: Open all markets to ICT services

Governments and ICT industry players must also band together to address challenges facing future of digital economy, urges World IT and Services Alliance official.

KUALA LUMPUR--The World Information Technology and Services Alliance (WITSA) is calling on governments and the information communications and technology (ICT ) industry to work together to address important challenges facing the future of the digital economy.

Maximizing the efficient use of energy, opening global markets, ensuring Internet governance, and the provision of relevant ICT education are four key issues that must be addressed if the ICT is to progress further, said Jim Poisant, secretary-general of WITSA.

Speaking to delegates Monday at the World Congress on Information Technology (WCIT) in the Malaysian capital, Poisant acknowledged the ICT industry continues to make outstanding contributions in the area of energy efficiency. WITSA is the organizer of the WCIT, which runs from May 18 to 22.

"But the ICT industry needs to implement energy-saving measures that will further protect the environment," Poisant said. "This includes maximizing energy efficiency in products and services, including data centers and the utilization of smart building technology."

Other measures include reducing business traveling in favor of tele-working and teleconferencing, and using alternative energy sources, he added.

According to Poisant, opening up more markets to ICT services will enhance economic development efforts and growth by improving their productivity. This, he added, will also attract foreign direct investment.

"The WITSA respectfully recommends that all nations, which have been reluctant to open their markets to ICT service, do so expeditiously," he said.

The elimination of tariffs and customs on ICT services will give businesses and governments the ability to obtain the benefits of the latest ICT quickly, without having to make major investments, Poisant explained.

"We encourage WTO (World Trade Organization) members to complete the Doha Round of trade negotiations this year, and sign on to the Information Technology Agreement," he said.

On Internet governance, Poisant said there is a need to ensure the Internet is kept opened and accessible to all societies, and to ensure the reliable access to secure information communication networks and services.

"The multi-stakeholder nature of Internet governance must be upheld, and the [development] of the Internet must continue to receive industry participation and involvement," he said.

Poisant added that the WITSA also advocates the use of ICT to provide education to those who may not have the opportunity to receive it.

"We [also] need to work together to ensure our educational systems are modernized to prepare our citizens to succeed in the digital economy," he said, noting that education should be responsive to the needs of the ICT industry.

Asia, EMEA surpasses Americas
The WITSA also released Monday its latest Digital Planet report, a publication that provides statistics on global ICT spending and trends across 75 countries.

According to Poisant, total ICT spending will enter a period of moderating growth through 2011 as a result of the slowing economies of developed nations, which are beginning to cool their demand for IT products.

The report noted that total ICT spending will grow more than double to US$4.4 trillion in 2011, from about US$2.1 trillion in 2003. The Americas, Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), and the Asia-Pacific (AP) region, will grow through the forecast interval, the WITSA report added.

Poisand said: "The Americas will grow the lowest at 4 percent per year from 2007 through 2011, while Asia-Pacific and EMEA will post compound annual growth of 10.5 and 5 percent, respectively."

"During 2008, purchases of ICT products and services within EMEA will surpass the Americas. With its double digit growth rate, the Asia-Pacific share of ICT spending will rise from 25.6 percent to 30.1 percent in 2011."

Edwin Yapp is a freelance IT writer based in Malaysia.