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ITU launches ‘G5 Benchmark’ for collaboration among regulators and policy-makers

Sixteen countries out of 193 now have collaborative regulatory frameworks in place to enable digital transformation across sectors.

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has launched the 2020 Global ICT Regulatory Outlook which includes the Benchmark of Fifth Generation Collaborative Regulation, a new tool for policy-makers and regulators to leverage digital transformation for all through stronger collaboration across sectors. 

The Benchmark of Fifth Generation Collaborative Regulation, also referred to as the ‘G5 Benchmark’, aims to fast-track collaboration among regulators and policy-makers from the information and communication technology (ICT) sector and other sectors to drive digital transformation for all.

The ‘G5 Benchmark’ offers metrics to assess gaps, proposes smart roadmaps through shifting regulatory landscapes, tracks progress and proposes solutions where concrete progress towards the sustainable development goals has proved challenging. The concept of ‘regulation generations’ helps stakeholders analyse the maturity of modern regulatory frameworks – from the command and control of first-generation (G1) regulation to a collaborative and harmonised approach in fifth-generation (G5) regulation.

The 2020 Global ICT Regulatory Outlook benchmarks regulatory across 193 countries worldwide and offers an objective perspective on the latest trends driving ICT policy and regulation. Key findings include a vanguard of 16 G5 countries now have holistic, forward-looking regulatory frameworks in place set to enable digital transformation across their economies and more than half of world’s population is concentrated in G2 and G3 countries, with potential to leapfrog to near-universal digital inclusion. Meanwhile, a quarter of countries remain in the G3 category, making progress on stronger policy and regulation, but as yet are unable to unlock the full potential of ICT markets.

In just one decade, G4 has become the established standard for every ICT regulator, with more than 50 countries in this category; however, 40% of countries languish in G1 or G2 categories, missing development opportunities and increasingly adrift from global digitisation and economic transformation.

Commenting on the G5 benchmark, Houlin Zhao, ITU Secretary-General, said: “Collaboration across sectors proves increasingly successful in piloting regulators and policy-makers towards broad and inclusive digital transformation. Indeed, digital technologies and services are transforming lives across society – from agriculture to smart water management systems. ITU stands ready to support regulators and policy-makers around the world. The ‘G5 Benchmark’ serves as a compass for regulators on their journey towards digital transformation for all.“

Doreen Bogdan-Martin, Director of the ITU Telecommunication Development Bureau, remarked: ”The Global ICT Regulatory Outlook 2020 is as a rich, powerful and practical tool to all of us seeking to build a world of meaningful connectivity through regulation that is open, cross-sector, and above all, collaborative. It lays out clearly the trends, the challenges and the opportunities before the regulatory community in 2020 and continues to set out the decades-long ICT regulation story as our industry develops and responds to major world crises like the 2008 financial crash and COVID-19.” 

The Global ICT Regulatory Outlook 2020 offers an overview of the state of regulation in all ITU regions. Regulatory frameworks in Africa have evolved the most over the past 10 years; as of 2018, only two African nations remain in the G1 category. Africa’s score has kept pace with the rise in world averages and has exceeded averages of the Arab States, Asia-Pacific and CIS.

In the Americas, over a third of countries have now achieved the highest G4 and G5 generations of regulation. Between 2007 and 2018, the region increased its average score more than all other regions, with thirteen countries now having attained G4 status.

The Arab States have seen slow progress in moving up the ‘generation ladder’, although the pace will likely accelerate over the next two years with major reforms expected in some States. Major movement in the region has come through G2 countries progressing to the G3 category. Three States are now classified as G4 countries and one Arab country has reached G5 collaborative regulation category.

Asia-Pacific presents a very diverse range of countries in terms of regulatory maturity. Across the region, only four countries have attained G4 status and no countries have succeeded in attaining G4 status since 2012, while two are in the G5 category.

Though progress has been made in the CIS region, regulatory frameworks are moving at a slower pace, with average annual scores since 2007 consistently below the world average. Europe leads other regions, with 28 countries placing in G4 and no fewer than ten in the G5 category. While annual average scores of Europe have consistently been the highest since 2007, the gap between European annual average scores and world averages has greatly narrowed from 45 per cent in 2007 to 21 per cent in 2018.