Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation

The Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO) is the oldest and largest Commonwealth organisation engaged in multilateral collaboration in the field of information and communication technologies (ICTs). It uses its expertise to support members in integrating ICTs to deliver effective development interventions that enrich, empower and emancipate people within the Commonwealth and beyond.

The CTO traces its origins to the creation of the Pacific Cable Board in 1901. In its modern form, it has existed since 1967 as an international treaty organisation, independent of the Commonwealth Secretariat, and with diplomatic status in its host country, the UK. Its constitution was first agreed by Commonwealth governments in Ottawa, Canada, in 1972, and has been revised subsequently on various occasions. The CTO is currently governed by its Council consisting of Full Member Countries, with an eight-person Executive Committee overseeing the activities of the Secretariat between Council meetings.

The CTO has two broad categories of membership: Full Member Countries and ICT Sector Members, the latter being drawn from governments, the private sector and civil society. It also works with a diversity of partners to help deliver its remit. All members and partners comply with a rigorous ethical framework that helps to ensure that the CTO operates in a fully transparent manner in all of its activities.

In recent years, the CTO has built a strong reputation in delivering three main types of activity: research and consultancy; capacity development and training; and events and conferences. The CTO’s Strategic Plan for 2012/13-2015/16 highlights six main themes on which the organisation is currently focusing: broadband, especially mobile broadband for rural development; cyber security and cyber crime; ICTs for people with disabilities; regulatory environments; the use of ICTs for skills development and entrepreneurship; and youth and ICT.

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