In a statement which stunned listening analysts and journalists alike, ITU Secretary General Dr Hamadoun Touré announced the end of the Arab Spring during a round table at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. According to Touré the end will officially come at the ITU Connect Arab States Summit, due to take place in Doha on March 5-7 2012.
One has to wonder whether the government Syria in particular will take note and comply. If so the ITU will achieve what the UN and various world leaders have so far failed to do.
When questioned about the bizarre announcement Touré insisted that job creation throughout the Arab world will be the key to ending the unrest in the region. He asserts that the ICT sector is the only field which has the capability of delivering skilled, well paid jobs in the time and volume required to ensure there is not a further bout of instability throughout the region.
In Touré’s view, it is essential the March summit sets a legal and regulatory framework which is adopted by all governments in the Arab region in order to create investment and jobs in ICT. Failure to agree on this at the summit will lead directly to further instability in the region within 12 months as the region’s educated and skilled but under employed youth react against their own governments’ failure to provide opportunities prospects.
Touré believes that success at the summit will unlock investment in the region from oil rich Gulf states which can fund the development of the ICT sector.
Announcing the end of the Arab Spring may seem an extreme way to draw attention to what could well be seen as another dull ITU regulatory summit. The ITU does, however, still have significant influence with governments as well as investors and any progress the Doha summit can make in creating investment and job opportunities is to be welcomed.