Mr. Chairman, Secretary General and distinguished guests; Firstly, I would like to thank the UAE for the invitation and hosting of this event here in beautiful Dubai. On behalf of my Government please accept a warm greeting from Somalia. A country that many of you might not rapidly associate with ICT, but nevertheless going through digital revolution to fast track rebuilding its nation.
On behalf of the Somali Government, l would like to also express my Government's deepest sympathy to the Government of Malaysia, particularly to the families of those whose loved ones went missing on the flight MH370.
The WTDC-2014 is a landmark, global conference which provides Members and other stakeholders with an opportunity to assess the progress that has been made since the last World Telecommunications Development Conference in 2010 (WTDC-2010).
After two and a half decades, in which there were indeed a few challenges, Somalia is back. And the telecom and ICT sector is one of the success stories. These sectors provide many services to our people including mobile phone web access, and the use of mobile money, which is rapidly leading Somalia to become a cashless society. Somali language websites are in the thousands and increasing and soon we want to introduce IDN using Arabic script (.so .cctld) to enable the many Somalis who speak and write in Arabic to develop content and share their ideas with others using Arabic script. We believe ICT and broadband solutions will help us recover fast and develop a sustainable economy, a vital component for a secure and peaceful Somalia.
Our focus is on ICC - infrastructure, connectivity and content. Fibre optics has landed along with other advanced technologies. Access to the internet is showing a steep upward trend and online content has increased many fold since we met in Hyderabad a few years ago.
We have a vision that soon all Somalis will have access to the internet. To achieve that, one of the most important areas of development, my government is focused on, is the education sector. Our policy is to encourage educational institutions to increase their understanding and use of ICT in education. My Government has offered all universities in Somalia free .edu.so-based domains. It is my Ministry's policy to enable all Somali students to have access to the internet and provide them with .edu.so-based emails within this year.
We are working towards a goal that all Somalis who already have access to the internet will get more online resources. E-gov initiatives and online education are just two areas that we are shifting resources into. Somali Government policy has the aim of encouraging our universities to provide the necessary educational foundation to our students so that they can leapfrog into the use of new developments in the ICT sector. Despite all the difficulties of the past, we now have an opportunity to move forward rapidly. We want to do this because we believe access to information and knowledge will help us gain the capacity to develop our economy, secure our environment and enable our people to become productive citizens.
The Somali Government is conscious of the role adequate communications services can play in nation building and has therefore been committed to ensure that ICT services and infrastructure are expanded rapidly. We have recognized that broadband is an accelerator of social and economic development in the modern world and a creator of international competitiveness in the global information economy. Therefore, we intend to capitalise on these technologies and sustain its use to facilitate innovation, enhance competitiveness, increase productivity and economic development and promote greater social inclusion,
We plan to initiate projects aimed at accelerating the use of broadband services in Somalia and this includes e-Government projects aimed at providing key government services on-line to citizens. A rural communications program is soon to be implemented which is aimed at encouraging the private sector to build and operate communications networks in rural areas, funded in the long run by a Universal Service Fund (USF).
My Government has also commenced work on a SIM card registration scheme, interconnectivity, number portability, internet exchange point, national gateway and is now considering a draft of the telecommunication law to ensure a legislative framework and the rule of law governs the sector.
It is an important part of our ICT strategy to grant LTE (Long Term Evolution) spectrum licenses to mobile operators which will not only further extend the reach of ICT services and infrastructure, but also support the roll out of mobile broadband services in Somalia in the near future. The switch over from analogue to digital terrestrial Radio and Television Broadcasting is also underway.
We also have ambitious projects, in which we could leap ahead of countries already using advanced ICT. Developing advanced ID cards for all Somalis, useful for security purposes in a county where security challenges impact economic development. Partially utilizing ipv6 numbers is a project that anticipates that one day all Somalis will have access to the internet. Even snail mail is going through transformation, a project is underway using ICT to link the 1 million Somalis who live abroad with their families and friends back home.
Ladies and gentlemen,
At this point, On behalf of my Government I would like to thank the ITU and the UAE for their support over the years, and their assistance in managing our spectrum, harmonizing frequencies with our neighbors and in many other projects that have helped us manage and develop our telecommunication sector. I am looking forward to partnership with the ITU and all of you since we all share similar goals, concerns and a desire for success, I have no doubt that together we will be able to move ahead much faster than if we worked alone.
Mr Chairman, and to all our colleagues, I extend, on behalf of the Somali Government, our best wishes for a very successful Conference.
I thank you all.