The government has a key role to play in driving digital investment. File Photo: IOL

DURBAN – Smart technology was crucial for government’s to be able to provide world class services to their citizens, International Telecommunication Union (ITU) secretary-general Houlin Zhao told a ministerial roundtable on digitalising cities in Durban on Tuesday.

The roundtable discussion, chaired by Deputy Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services, Stella Tembisa Ndabeni Abrahams looked at the role of governments in addressing information and communications technology (ICT) deployment and adoption of networks, services and applications. 

Zhao said the government had a key role to play in driving digital investment. 

“By growing digital infrastructure, government can grow the economy. By shaping policy, development can drive the agenda.”

He said artificial intelligence (AI) had the potential to deliver trillions of US dollars to the gross domestic product of countries over the next few years.

“Governments must ensure that the benefit of AI is widely distributed and equally shared. The digital transformation of public services offered to citizens can be a digital driver. This is the crucial role played by ICT in increasing efficiency in the modern world.” 

Zhao promised that ITU would follow the discussions over the implementation of digital policies closely to ensure ITU policies are aligned with the needs of its members.

“The Ministers’ opinions and expectations for the future of ITU is critical. We value your opinions and will try our best to transmit your messages to everyone at ITU.”