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ITU Telecom World is a global platform for governments, corporates and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to accelerate ICT innovation for economic growth and social good. ITU Telecom World 2017 took place in Busan, South Korea, from 25 to 28 September. Next year the event is set to take place in Africa for the first time.

ITU is a specialized agency of the United Nations (UN) that is responsible for issues that concern information and communication technologies.

Siyabonga Cyprian Cwele, South Africa's Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services, expressed his country's willingness to host ITU Telecom World 2018, highlighting that, "There are many interesting and exciting innovations taking place in Africa. We believe that hosting ITU Telecom World in Africa will open up a wide range of possibilities for investment, trade and partnerships between African countries and the global ICT community."

The Government of South Africa conveyed its willingness to host ITU Telecom World 2018. Next year's event will continue to act as the international platform connecting tech SMEs together with governments and corporates attracting member states, regulators, heads of international organizations, global media, digital experts and visionaries, leading ICT corporations and cutting-edge tech SMEs from the region and across the globe.

The annual conference attracts government and industry leaders to explore and identify investment opportunities and best practices for socio-economic development through ICT. As the conference increasingly focuses on small, medium and micro-sized enterprises (SMMEs), the South African government hopes that hosting the event will underline the innovations of ICT SMMEs on the continent, according to the Department of Telecommunications and Postal Service.

"SA put in a successful bid to host the 2018 ITU Telecom World Exhibition Conference, subject to the conclusion of all the contractual arrangements that should be in place," the department said in a statement. "These include securing a suitable venue and agreeing on dates. In line with this, a delegation from the ITU will visit SA later this year to inspect the prospective venue and take forward the contracting discussions."

The statement added, "The ITU World Telecom and Exhibition Conference has never been held on the African continent. The government believes hosting the conference on the continent will increase the participation of other African countries, thereby increasing the possibilities of investment in ICT on the continent."

Frost & Sullivan senior industry analyst for digital transformation practice Naila Govan-Vassen said the platform "can be used to address the key challenges that Africa is facing in terms of connecting the wider population, and to find ways in which all countries can work together to improve connectivity rates."

She added, "Spectrum, national broadband plans and the increased drive for digital services are some of the topics that will need special attention, while strategizing as to how new digital skills need to be developed in order to uplift the workforce and prepare the younger generation for a digital world."

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