UAE’s TRA to set up digital innovation centre with ITU in Geneva

The facility will help all ITU member states to learn more about new technologies and integrate them into national development agendas

Houlin Zhao, secretary general of ITU, said the upcoming Geneva centre will accelerate the pace of digital revolution globally. Leslie Pableo for The National
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The UAE's Telecommunications Regulatory Authority has joined forces with the International Telecommunication Union – a UN-backed internet and telecoms agency – to set up a centre of research, digital innovation and transformation in Geneva.

The centre, known as International Centre of Digital Innovation (I-CoDI), will help ITU member states, particularly less well-off countries, to learn about and integrate new technologies into their national development agendas, ITU said in a statement.

"Innovation is at the heart of the digital revolution … we welcome the decision by the TRA, a long-standing partner of ITU, to establish its future International Centre of Digital Innovation in Geneva,” said Houlin Zhao, secretary-general of ITU.

“It [the centre] will help catalyse efforts to turn today's digital revolution into a development revolution for all,” he added.

The Geneva centre’s design phase will be completed by the end of this year and will be equipped to operate virtually if needed, the ITU said, without divulging further details.

It builds on the concept of the UAE’s existing digital innovation centre set up in TRA's Dubai office in 2013. This carries out research and development work into various new technologies, products and services that help to build network capacity.

The TRA, which regulates the UAE’s telecom sector, said it is looking forward to “serve the goals of global societies aimed at achieving sustainable development and digital transformation” through the Geneva centre.

“The UAE is no longer a country that imports ideas, but rather a source of innovation and success in various sectors,” Hamad Obaid Al Mansoori, the TRA’s director-general, said.

“This experience reflects the success of innovation and policies pursued by the UAE … resulted in hundreds of initiatives that contributed to achieving the UAE’s leading position in innovation.”

Doreen Bogdan-Martin, director of the ITU’s telecoms development bureau said the new centre will help to address socio-economic challenges and increase the overall competitiveness of countries.

“I look forward to working closely with the TRA to establish I-CoDI and contributing to the development of innovation strategies to accelerate digital transformation and the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” she said.

In December last year, the TRA also teamed up with Chinese tech giant Huawei to open a ‘5G & IoT Joint OpenLab’ in Dubai focused on fifth-generation mobile network technology and the Internet of Things.