Behind the ministerial curtain at MWC Barcelona 2022

Every year, MWC Barcelona features an exclusive event-within-an-event called the Ministerial Programme where government delegations, industry regulators and representatives of international institutions converge to share their policy knowledge, to debate timely topics and to engage with their peers and leaders of the mobile industry from around the world.

This year, in its sixteenth edition, the Ministerial Programme experienced a reawakening after the cancelled show in 2020 and a reduced event in June 2021 when travel restrictions from the pandemic were still affecting many countries. For 2022, the GSMA was very pleased to welcome more than 1,300 participants with delegations from 124 countries, including 50 ministers of information and communication technology and 88 heads of regulatory authorities.

The buzz is most definitely back. On the Ministerial Stage, 78 speakers presented their views on leading issues such as mobile’s role in spurring climate action, building smarter cities and ensuring networks can keep up with the rising demand for mobile data. New insights into perennial topics for our sector were presented — on spectrum policy, closing the digital divide, regulating the data economy and the role of mobile in humanitarian response.

The GSMA presented awards to ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao for his outstanding contribution to the mobile industry, and to the Government of Spain for its leadership in setting positive, impactful policies supporting digital connectivity and the wider digital economy and society.

In the common areas outside the auditorium and meeting rooms, there was a palpable energy and warmth as participants were able to re-engage with longtime associates and have frank and focused discussions. One delegate observed that a 5-minute conversation in person could provide more insight than a month of online video calls.

While this year’s event was overlayed by concern for Ukraine at the start of the Russian invasion, perhaps it strengthened the feeling that human-centred policies based on dialogue, diplomacy and collective problem-solving are as necessary today as they have ever been.

Read more programme highlights: