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Regional ITU Consultation on Conformance Assessment and Interoperability for the Africa Region
Nairobi, Kenya 30 July 2010
Distinguished delegates
Ladies and gentlemen
Colleagues and friends

Habarry, bon jour, good morning… and welcome to this Regional ITU Consultation on Conformity Assessment and Interoperability for the Africa Region.

I wish to express my deep gratitude to the Director General of the Kenyan Communications Commission, Mr. Charles Njoroge and the Honourable Minister Samuel Poghisio, the Minister for Information and Communications for hosting this and the other ITU events this week.

Driven by the concerns of developing countries ITU has been very active in developing a programme of activities that will create a more interoperable ICT environment and ease the transition towards new technologies.

Key element in a standards developer’s portfolio are: testing specifications; conformance testing to determine compliant products; and interoperability testing amongst various manufacturers’ products implementing the standard(s).

ITU’s Telecommunication Standardization Sector (ITU-T), which is the pre-eminent global telecommunication standards body dealing specifically with global interoperability, has recently begun to implement these three elements to contribute to networks and services interconnection and to develop a range of standards that provide for conformity testing and interoperability.

This was prompted by a plea for help (mainly) from developing countries, expressed in WTSA Resolution 76 in Johannesburg 2008, to redress the lack of conformity and interoperability nationally and internationally.

Successful implementation of this programme is therefore a crucially important step towards ensuring global ICT interoperability.

Defining more interfaces where interoperability can be tested increases competition and reduces the chances of being locked in to a single product.

As we will hear today we have put in place a pilot version of a conformity database which will record information provided by companies on conformity of their products to ITU-T Recommendations.

The demand for a conformity database was simple: people want a database on the ITU website where they can see what products have been successfully tested to ITU-T Recommendations similarly to those already provided by a number of Standards Development Organisations.

To ensure the credibility of the database, tests will be carried out in an accredited laboratory: first, second or third party; or be accepted by an accredited certification body. Companies will voluntarily input the data directly into the database by submitting the relevant Supplier’s Declaration of Conformity available on-line.

Just last week in Geneva ITU held our first Interop event… on IPTV.

Several IPTV manufacturers participated in conformity assessment and interoperability testing to ITU IPTV standards to make sure all their devices work seamlessly with one another.

Proprietary solutions may offer fast deployment in the short term - but in the medium and longer term, buyers will be subject to vendor lock-in with costly upgrades and reduced content and hardware choice. Industry consortia-based 'standards' are mostly region specific with little or no implementation.

The Interop event not only show cased interoperable products but proved ITU global standards in this important field are ready to go, and in fact are already being implemented.

In addition to the conformity database and Interop events a third action that ITU is pursuing is the implementation of human resources capacity building events

This event in the amazing city of Nairobi is the second such event… the first was successfully held in Quito, Ecuador at the beginning of July and a third one, for the Asia-Pacific region, will be held in Sydney mid September.

We are also working to assist in the establishment of test facilities in developing countries. Discussions with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) have already begun and a pilot project has been conducted in Tanzania.

We have begun work on the framework of a business plan for the long term implementation of the actions and which will provide the environmental background; the pros and cons of acting on Resolution 76; a road map for the implementation of the actions; a budget; legal aspects; study group actions; and partnerships for taking the work forward. The new World Telecommunication Development Conference Resolution 47 reinforces this effort.

ITU is committed to working in consultation with all its membership and in collaboration with other SDOs, forums and consortia on this important topic.

We have held discussions with ATIS, TIA, ITI and several Sector Members in the USA about Resolution 76.

We have also visited the Interoperability Testing Lab of the University of New Hampshire, a not-for profit organization that has a formidable reputation in the testing field and which recently sent representatives to the ITU-T Study Group 15 meeting in June. Other visits are planned in the regions in order to map the status and to have direct knowledge of the existing technical potentialities. The aim is to explore the possibility to create a regional labs-grid for ITU-T Recommendations testing.

Conformity does not imply interoperability, but the chances of interoperability are definitely higher if equipment has been shown to conform to a standard. Pursuing activities that create better conformance and interoperability will ensure more effective use of resources offered by modern ICTs and help towards ITU’s mission to Connect the World.

I would like to thank you all for your participation, especially the chairman, Mr Sherif Guinena, and the speakers. I am sure the dialogue over the next two days will help considerably with the implementation of Resolution 76.

Thank you for your attention, I wish you a very productive and enjoyable event.


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