ITU

Committed to connecting the world

World Telecommunication Development Conference 2014

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Statement by Mr. Abdoulkarim SOUMAILA, Secretary General, African Telecommunications Union


On the basis of statistics and experiences at personal, national and region levels, the fact that Broadband promotes social-economic growth and sustainable development cannot be doubted. This fact is more true in the case of Mobile Broadband which puts endless possibilities at the disposal of users in their physical hands 24/7. Given the limited penetration of fixed line technologies in Africa, the role of Mobile Broadband for sustainable development in Africa is more pronounced than perhaps in other regions of the world. Indeed, even in the face of the recent global economic slowdown, the African region has continued to post appreciable economic growth. Without doubt, Mobile Broadband has had a significant role in this phenomena of economic growth in Africa. Even in regions where the slowdown was apparent, the role of broadband in lifting these regions out of the slowdown cannot be doubted. The role of broadband in smart commerce and general competiveness is apparent.

Given the current knowledge and appreciation of the role of Broadband for sustainable development, it becomes crucial to move from rhetoric to actions that are SMARTER. This is why the African region is supporting this WTDC and has in this regard, put in a proposal as to the possible ITU-D programs in the immediate and near future term on broadband promoting applications including e-skilling and content development promotion. Our hope is that that as we discuss the various proposals, compromises will be reached on the SMARTER programs that are of mutual benefit but with special consideration to the special needs of our region as a developing region.

At a regional level and in moving from rhetoric to action, our region has and is actively undertaking a number of programs. On the very top is the review of the Constitution and Convention of the African Telecommunications Union which is the African intergovernmental institution for ICT promotion in its role as a specialized institution of the African Union on ICTs. This review alongside the Strategic Plan 2015 - 2018 is aimed at recognizing the future role of broadband in sustainable development and therefore takes SMARTER actions in good time. It should be noted here that the cost of not doing or delaying actions for the promotion of broadband for all, can in fact be more costly that additional resources needed to carry out the SMARTER actions.

In the interest of time, I now simply wish to indicate some of the actions which the region is actively pursuing in the promotion of broadband including promotion of the following aspects:

  • Prudent spectrum management to make spectrum available at the right time and amount for the furtherance of mobile broadband with digital dividend being a good example;
  • An enabling ICT policies and regulatory frameworks;
  • Bridging the digital divide in Africa;
  • Talent and innovations in ICT in terms of applications, content development and an ecosystem for rapid application development;
  • e-skilling programs to grow the ICT human resource base;
  • Development of broadband infrastructure and content delivery networks in general;
  • Development of appropriate infrastructure to achieve rural connectivity and universal access; and

· Safe use of Internet to promote digital economies;

It is therefore my sincere hope that this WTDC will establish appropriate mechanisms for the continued broadband through-out the world particularly in developing parts of the world.

Future collaborations and SMARTER actions for promotion of Broadband for Sustainable Development.

Thank you all!