BRICS Working Group (BRICS WG) on ICT cooperation BRICS Communication Ministers Meetings

The leaders of the Federative Republic of Brazil, the Russian Federation, the Republic of India, the People's Republic of China and the Republic of South Africa, met on 9 July 2015, in Ufa, Russia, at the Seventh BRICS Summit, which was held under the theme "BRICS Partnership – a Powerful Factor of Global Development. The UFA conference adopted the Ufa Declaration and the Strategy for the BRICS Economic Partnership to provide key guidelines for cooperation in several socio, economic spheres including in science, technology and innovation, connectivity and ICT cooperation among the BRICS members.

To realize and strengthen cooperation in the area of ICTs, including internet, the leaders decided to constitute a BRICS Working Group (BRICS WG) on ICT cooperation. Considering complementary strengths and potential as a market, cooperation in ICTs among BRICS through this standing cooperation mechanism forebodes a great beginning for working together and contributing to developing BRICS countries as knowledge societies. ‘Digital Partnership’ for sustainable development would be an explicit enabler to address challenges and exploit the opportunities. Acknowledging this implicit need for Digital Partnership, the ‘Strategy for BRICS Economic Partnership’ identified ‘Information and Communication Technology’ as one of the priority areas for cooperation under ‘Science, Technology and Innovation’.

In this context, the BRICS WG on ICT Cooperation proposes ‘BRICS ICT Developmental Agenda and Action Plan’, a live document, to engage key stakeholders of the BRICS members on a continuous basis to accomplish concrete and time bound results. The document is prepared based on summit declarations, international research on BRICS strengths & gaps. Summit declarations identified B2B engagement, R&D and Innovation platform and Capacity building as important elements to enhance role of BRICS in Digital Economy. Active and enhanced cooperation in ‘Trade in ICTs, Innovation and new technologies and Market practices’ are planned to overcome geographical and language barriers. The BRICS WG is envisaged to facilitate active and effective cooperation in ICTs in key areas including creating enabling environment for ICTs development, security in use of ICTs, driving BRICS agenda for international norms and governing structures, coordinated positions on public policy issues on international platforms. The leadership acknowledged that ‘Sustainable Development and Innovation’ are the key components on BRICS ICT collaborative platform in going forward.

The Digital Partnership spelled under ICT Developmental Agenda and Action Plan provides a way forward for the BRICS members to develop ICT collaborative framework for cooperation to complement individual strengths. The BRICS WG believes that there is a significant scope for collaborative research, trade, engagement, people to people connectivity among the BRICS members to reap their full potential.

Finally, the BRICS leadership committed to focus on expanding universal access to all forms of digital communication and to improve awareness of people in this regard.

The BRICS member Countries recognize the significance of ICT (Information and Communications Technology) as a necessary tool for promoting the growth and development of developing countries, and further identify the BRICS cooperation framework in the ICT field as the basis for our future collaboration. They are pushing forward cooperation in fields including B2B Engagement, R&D and Innovation, and Capacity Building, which will improve the cooperative research, trade and engagement among BRICS member Countries.

This has so far held three meetings as below:

1. The 1st BRICS Communications Ministers Meeting was held at Moscow on 23rd October, 2015.

The Communique issued at this meeting is given

"Communique of BRICS Ministers of Communications on the outcomes of the meeting on "Expansion of Cooperation in the Field of Communications and ICTs"

Moscow, 23 October 2015

The Parties acknowledged that Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) have become a key factor for sustainable economic and social growth and development. ICTs are of increasing importance in governance, business and social activities and their impact will increase in the future. There is a common agreement on the importance of ICTs as essential tools for the growth and advancement of developing countries. Expansion of cooperation in the field of ICTs should therefore ensure universal access and be based on an understanding of the needs of government, business and society. Universal access is not qualified merely by quantitative access to the Internet, but embraces appropriate access to ICTs and media that government, business and society can use in moving from an information society towards a knowledge society. Taking into account the importance of broadband access for society, the economy and government, the Parties consider facilitating the implementation and use of high-speed (broadband) access to the Internet as an important part of BRICS ICTs strategies.

The Parties have noted the existing imbalance in the development and distribution of software and IT equipment and find it necessary to ensure joint efforts towards the diversification of the world market of software and IT equipment. Noting the aspiration of BRICS countries in the field of ICT design and manufacturing, the Parties agreed to use their complementary strengths in these areas and resolved to work together to share best practices, skills and promote investment in these areas to achieve these goals. The Parties confirmed that universal and accessible Internet remains a priority for all of the BRICS countries in order to ensure social and economic development.

The Parties also consider it necessary to promote measures and facilitate favorable conditions for ensuring the progressive development of ICTs. These measures and conditions include factors such as the equitable use of security measures relating to the continuity and stability of the use of ICTs in all spheres of life and production. The Parties also note the need to strengthen international cooperation by sharing the opportunities and outcomes in the field of the Internet development with a particular focus on developing countries so that these countries can bridge the digital divide. Noting that the Internet can be an important tool for the development and for the exercise of human rights, the Parties further confirmed the right of all States to establish and implement policies for information and communication networks in their territories in accordance with their respective history, culture, religion and social factors. Other States should understand and respect this right to self- determination.

Considering the necessity to ensure the secure, stable and continued operation and use of ICTs, including Internet, the Parties note the importance of the establishment of mechanism for the Internet governance based on the principles of multilateralism, democracy, transparency and mutual trust and involving relevant stakeholders in their respective roles and responsibilities.

This will in turn promote universal access to the Internet for everybody, participation of States in governing the Internet infrastructure, the sovereign rights of States to participate in governing the Internet in their respective jurisdictions in accordance with international law and the adherence to fundamental human rights and freedoms. The Ministry of Telecom and Mass Communications of the Russian Federation, the Ministry of Communications of the Federative Republic of Brazil, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology of the People`s Republic of China, the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology of the Republic of India and the Ministry of Telecommunications and Postal Services of the Republic of South Africa therefore commit to the building of appropriate capacity for cooperation and interaction in the field of ICTs, to hold annual meetings of the BRICS Working Group on ICT Cooperation to further strengthen cooperation in the areas of ICTs, including Internet.

2.The 2nd BRICS Communications Ministers Meeting was organized by Government of India, DoT held at JW Marriot, Bengaluru on 10/11th November, 2016.

Indian Minister of Telecom, Hon'ble Sh Manoj Sinha, Dr Malcolm Johnson, Dy Secretary General, International Telecom Union, ITU, Geneva, all the four Telecom Ministers from Brazil, Russia, China and South Africa joined the meet.

BRICS Telecom Ministers/Secretary etc. also joined the conference with about 100 delegates from BRICS Nations.

Attachments: The final program of the same. Some Photographs of the Meeting.

3. The 3rd BRICS Communications Ministers Meeting was held on 26-28 July 2017 in Hangzhou, China.

Ministers of the Federative Republic of Brazil, the Russian Federation, the Republic of India, the People's Republic of China and the Republic of South Africa, joined the meeting. The theme was “ICT Innovation and Converged Development in the Era of Digital Economy”.

Attachments: Administrative Circular Invitation Letter The Declaration of 3rd ICT WG

4. The 4th BRICS Communications Ministers Meeting will be held at Durban, South Africa on 14-16 Sept. 2018.
Attachments BRICS ICT Development Agenda.