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GSR-24: Regulation for Impact in Kampala

Data-driven technology is shaping the landscape to ensure digital inclusion in emerging economies. With such a rapidly evolving pace , there are significant differences among countries and continents when it comes to technological advancements. These differences call for urgent regulatory frameworks. The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) hosts the yearly Global Symposium for Regulators (GSR). This cornerstone event in the global telecoms sector brings together regulators, policy makers, industry leaders, and experts to discuss and shape the future of ICTs. GVG’s CEO, James Claude, participated in the 2024 edition of the GSR, held in Kampala (Uganda). Cosmas Luckyson Zavazava (ITU’s Director for the Telecommunication Development Bureau), said that “we need to commit to fostering an enabling regulatory environment where innovation thrives while minimizing risks and maximizing benefits. It is our collective responsibility to chart the course of transformative technologies for a greater positive impact, where technology serves as a lighthouse of development, economic growth, inclusivity and sustainability”.

A regulatory framework for digital inclusion

The capital of Uganda was a fitting location for the GSR-24, which took place between the first and the fourth of July 2024. The choice of Kampala highlighted the potential of African cities to lead in the digital transformation narrative. GVG has played a pivotal role, as our platforms have helped the Government of Uganda in the fight against telecom-related fraud, the enforcement of transparency and regulatory compliance across the telecom sector, and the implementation of a data-driven approach to tax computation and overall revenue mobilization.

The event had several key themes critical to the future of global telecommunications: Digital Inclusion and Accessibility, Regulatory Frameworks for Emerging Technologies, Cybersecurity and Data Privacy, and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Regulators and industry leaders from the private and public spheres explored the challenges and opportunities these technologies present, particularly in terms of creating robust regulatory frameworks that foster innovation while ensuring security and privacy. ITU Secretary-General Doreen Bogdan-Martin’s, said that 85% of ITU Member States reported having no AI regulations in place yet, despite a strong desire to learn and implement protections around AI development and use. The increasing digitalization of services, cybersecurity and data privacy are critical concerns and some of the feature sessions addressed developing comprehensive cybersecurity strategies, protecting critical infrastructure, and safeguarding personal data.

GVG’s CEO James Claude, took part in the ‘Safe and Inclusive Digital Financial Services’ session. The panelists discussed the regulatory approaches to an enabling safe, secured and inclusive digital financial ecosystem. As a pioneer in RegTech, GVG’s know-how and vast track record can provide its expertise in the Fintech field, when it comes to balancing innovative regulatory approaches where traditional banking regulations are still in place. Our tools can strengthen consumer safety and trust in digital financial services. James explained the importance of creating the right right regulatory environment to boost financial inclusion to shape the future of the digital financial ecosystem in Africa.

Challenges and opportunities

Policy makers and regulators face several challenges in embracing transformative technologies for greater impact. Some of these challenges include regulatory silos, administrative burdens, policy fragmentation and sector overlaps. There are also concerns that include data privacy, data governance and cross-border issues. Another challenge is the investment deficiencies for infrastructure development, access, adoption and use, lack of skilled human resources in the telecommunication/ICT sector, and high deployment costs.

To address these challenges, GSR provided best practice guidelines. Some of these include: improving the efficiency of services by supporting the streamlining processes and applying automation and technology innovation. Also promoting innovation, economic growth and enhancing transparency and accountability in the public sector. The guideliness also recommend empowering citizens and all stakeholders by providing new means of participation, access to public information and services, and by sharing information. Building partnerships between regulators and industry stakeholders is crucial to facilitate shared goals, risk mitigation, and maximization of technological benefits.

Governments and regulatory authorities must provide an effective use and access of government services to enhance transparency in the public sector. In that aspect, RegTech has played a pivotal role. It enhances regulatory compliance by leveraging cutting-edge technologies and implementing strong data governance. It also fosters innovation and supports the sustainable growth of key economic sectors.

Uganda’s role and contributions

Uganda’s role as the host country was pivotal in shaping the discussions and outcomes of the GSR 2024. The Ugandan government showcased its achievements in the ICT sector, including the implementation of e-government services. Uganda’s experience provided valuable lessons for other countries facing similar challenges and opportunities.

One of Uganda’s key contributions was its focus on infrastructure development. The country has made significant strides in expanding its telecommunications infrastructure, particularly in rural areas. This effort has involved collaboration with international partners and the private sector, resulting in increased connectivity and improved access to digital services. Uganda also highlighted its efforts to promote digital literacy and skills development. To that end, the government has implemented programs to enhance digital skills among its population. These initiatives aim to empower individuals to fully participate in the digital economy and leverage technology for personal and professional growth.

The symposium also provided a platform for Uganda to share its progress in implementing e-government services. These services have improved the efficiency and transparency of government operations, making it easier for citizens to access public services. Uganda’s experience underscored the potential of e-government initiatives to drive digital transformation and improve governance.

Collaboration and partnerships to foster ICT growth

A major takeaway from the GSR-24 was the emphasis on collaboration and partnerships. The symposium underscored the need for regulators to work closely with industry stakeholders, governments, and international organizations. This collaborative approach is essential to address the complex challenges of the digital age. It also ensures that regulatory frameworks are both effective and adaptable to develop harmonized regulatory standards and share best practices. International cooperation was highlighted as crucial to solve global challenges such as cybersecurity and cross-border data flows. Regulators were encouraged to adopt flexible approaches, such as the use of regulatory sandboxes to test new technologies in a controlled environment before full-scale implementation.

Capacity building and knowledge sharing were also highlighted as critical components for effective regulation. For GVG, capability building is at the core of our work in helping regulatory bodies build their regulatory capacity by streamlining and automating the collection and analysis of the vast volumes of data yielded by the different sectors. Clients skills transfer programs aim is to ensure autonomy.

Fostering innovation was identified as a critical priority. Regulators were urged to create environments that encourage experimentation and support startups and innovators. This includes providing access to funding, reducing regulatory barriers, and facilitating access to markets.

A roadmap for the future of effective regulation

The GSR-24 highlighted the importance of effective regulation in the digital age. Through robust discussions and collaborative efforts, the symposium charted a path forward for regulators to navigate the complexities of emerging technologies, ensure digital inclusion, and support sustainable development. As the world continues to embrace digital transformation, the insights and outcomes from the GSR-24 will play a crucial role in shaping the future of global telecommunications.

Would you like to know more about the role of data governance in RegTech implementation? Click here

Click here to watch our CEO’s interview with ITU and the GSR-24 highlights