The Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation: Brokering partnerships for ICT4D

Monday, 21 October 2013 - 5:00pm
Q170, Queens Building, Royal Holloway University of London

Prof Tim Unwin, Secretary General, Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation

Lecture and Drinks Reception jointly hosted by the ICT4D Centre/UNESCO Chair at Royal Holloway, University of London and Department of Geography

Chair: Dr Dorothea Kleine, Director or the ICT4D Centre at Royal Holloway, University of London

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Prof Tim Unwin is UNESCO Chair in ICT4D at Royal Holloway, University of London and since Sept 2011, he heads up the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO). In this Lecture he will reflect as Secretary General on the CTO’s strategic vision and the fast-changing spaces of ICT4D policy, research and practice. 

The CTO is the largest and oldest Commonwealth membership organisation committed to using information and communication technologies (ICTs) appropriately and effectively for development. It uses its experience and expertise to help nation states to integrate ICTs, delivering effective development interventions that enrich, empower, and emancipate people within the Commonwealth and beyond. Members of the CTO include governments, telecom regulators, private sector companies and international organisations.

The CTO seeks to work collaboratively with other Commonwealth bodies to build mutually beneficial synergies in the interests of its members. The CTO has a key role to play in leading ICT4D initiatives across the Commonwealth and welcomes the opportunity to offer support to any Commonwealth ICT initiatives that reflect the needs and interests of its members. The CTO adopts a broad definition of ‘development’.  While recognising the current dominant understanding of development, which interprets it largely as economic growth, the CTO also supports the use of ICTs to deliver social, cultural and political dimensions of development.  The CTO’s approach, detailed in its recently published  Strategic Plan can be summarised as encapsulating the four ‘e-s’ of emancipating, enriching, equalising and empowering.


Speaker’s Bio:

Professor Tim Unwin was appointed Chief Executive Officer of the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO) in September 2011. 

Having been Professor of Geography and Head of Department at Royal Holloway, University of London, between 1999 and 2001, he was asked to lead the UK Prime Minister’s Imfundo initiative, based in the Department of International Development, between 2001 and 2004. This initiative was designed to create partnerships between governments, the private sector and civil society organisations to implement ICT-based educational initiatives in Africa.

On his return to Royal Holloway in 2004, he created the ICT4D Collective, designed to explore ways through which the highest possible quality of research in the field of ICT4D (Information and Communication Technologies for Development) could be developed to serve the interests of some of the poorest and most marginalised people and communities. Building on his experiences of crafting multi-stakeholder partnerships, he was then invited in 2007 to work as Programme Director (part-time) in the World Economic Forum’s Global Education Initiative, leading their Partnerships for Education initiative with UNESCO, and eventually becoming a Senior Advisor to the initiative.

He has served the academic and professional community in a range of roles including as Honorary Secretary of the Royal Geographical Society (with The Institute of British Geographers) (1995-1997), a member of the British Council’s Education and Training Advisory Committee (2002-2006), Chair of the Developing Areas Research Group of the Institute of British Geographers (1990-1993), and undertaking a range of roles for research bodies including the UK’s Engineering and Physical Science Research Council, the Wellcome Trust, the National Science Foundation (USA), the Academy of Finland, and the Swiss National Science Foundation.

He is the author of more than 200 papers in international journals and chapters in edited books and has written or edited 15 books. He is editor of the landmark collection ICT4D - Information and Communication Technologies for Development (Cambridge University Press, 2009), a foundation text in the field.


Join us on the 21st October to hear Professor Unwin discuss his work at the CTO and outline his strategic priorities for the future.

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