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The ICT progress that we have witnessed in the last decade has forced governments and companies worldwide to adopt the digital alternative as the ultimate way to achieve the development at both economic and social levels. Thus, the world is becoming more and more hyper-connected and complex with the emergence of many new trends, like: cloud computing, big data, open data, Internet of Things (IoT), virtual reality, e-currency, etc.

Therefore, this hyper-connectivity has generated the massive migration towards the Digital Economy.  Day-to-day, the Digital Economy catches the attention of governments around the world to become one of the main topics within their national development strategies. However, in order to ensure a smooth and successful transition to this new model, a big focus has to be done on e-trust and cybersecurity mechanisms and tools as well as strong and fruitful regional and international cooperation among multi-stakeholders sharing same goals and visions.

In this respect and within the scope of its role as an Arab and regional entity aiming at developing ICTs throughout the Arab region and providing the necessary mechanisms to support cooperation and complementarity between its members, more specifically, its project "E-trust within the Arab and African regions", the Arab Information and Communication Technologies Organization (AICTO) organized in partnership with the Information Technology Authority - National Digital Certification Center - Sultanate of Oman, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the African Telecommunication Union (ATU) the "Interregional Standardization Forum for PKI and eTrust", from 11 to 12 December 2017 at the Public Authority for Civil Aviation - Muscat - Sultanate of Oman.

This high-level forum held under the patronage of H.E. Dr. Ahmed Mohammed Salem Al-Futaisi, Minister of Transport & Communications‎ - Sultanate of Oman and inaugurated by H.E. Mr. Hammad Bin Salim Al Rawahi, CEO of the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority - Oman, gathered over than 170 high level participants from 14 Arab and African countries besides South Korea, USA and France. Delegates included government officials, international experts, representatives of Arab and African Digital Certification Centers, regulation authorities and a number of ICT professionals from government, private sectors and academia.

The first "Interregional Standardization Forum for PKI and e-Trust" aimed at:

  • Opening high level Interregional dialogue about e-trust services and the key role of national e-certification authorities in building trustworthy digital societies;
  • Paving the way towards the interoperability and mutual recognition of e-trust services;
  • Boosting the interregional cooperation in field of e-trust to coordinate efforts and come up with technical solutions and regulatory approaches to combat the growth of fraud and cyber threats in the Blockchain era;
  • And raising the awareness about the standardization importance in spreading the ICT benefits, and the ways to fill up the standardization gap in both Arab and African regions.

 Several topics were discussed during the forum panels:

  • Panel-1 : Bridging the Standardization Gap (BSG)
  • Panel-2 : eTrust in the hyper-connected world
  • Panel-3 : E-Certification & PKI deployment in the Arab & African Regions
  • Panel-4 : Challenges facing Arab & African countries in PKI adoption & implementation 
  • Round Table : Towards a fruitful Interregional cooperation in e-trust & Standardization

The forum was an occasion for the official launching of the "Arab-African e-certification authorities Forum" AAECA-Forum, and was concluded by an "Arab-African declaration named Declaration of Muscat: "PKI basic pillar for Arab & Regional Digital Economies". Among the clauses and recommendations of this regional declaration, aiming at promoting e-trust within the Arab and African regions through e-certification and PKI:

  • Strengthen the role of the Arab ICT Organization (AICTO) as regional coordinator in the field of e-certification and digital trust in cooperation with the African Telecommunication Union (ATU).
  • Invite all Arab and African countries to join the "Arab-African e-certification Authorities Forum" AAECA-forum and to participate actively in its activities.
  • Establish a regional strategy to encourage countries in both regions (Arab & African) to set up the necessary mechanisms for the interoperability and mutual recognition of digital trust services and to enhance coordination at the legal level.
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