Mr. General Secretary,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Allow me to express my gratitude to our hosts - the United Arab Emirates - and to the ITU for the excellent conditions and organisation of this important Conference.
The priorities of the Republic of Bulgaria in the field of information and communication technologies (ICT) and the Internet are outlined in the National Programme Digital Bulgaria 2015, whose implementation is a task of all relevant state institutions.
The Action Plan of the National Programme Digital Bulgaria 2015 provides for more than 80 main objectives in the following areas: electronic communications, broadband, e-governance, education, research, intelligent transport systems, environment, financialinstruments, and Internet governance. Among the most important objectives in the Action Plan is the development of broadband access and e-governance in Bulgaria, which is a priority area of the Ministry of Transport, Information Technology and Communications. The main technological prerequisite for the successful functioning of electronic governance and the provision of administrative services to the citizens and the business is availability of modern broadband electronic communication networks. Broadband connectivity and electronic infrastructure do not simply lay the grounds and trigger innovations in the ICT sector, but also provide the opportunity for the development of the other sectors of the economy.
The speed of the broadband access provided in the economically developed regions in Bulgaria is over 2 Mbps for 99.5 % of the lines, and between 10 and 30 Mbps for over 74.1 % of the lines. Those indicators rank Bulgaria among the European countries with fastest broadband access according to ITU's report "The World in 2013: ICT Facts and Figures". Notwithstanding those achievements, the National Strategy for the Development of Broadband Access sets out the following main priorities:
Ø Solve the issue with the provision of broadband access in remote areas and sparsely-populated and rural regions in order to overcome the digital development "delay" of the population in these regions compared to the population in big cities and economically developed regions. That is why at the end of 2013 a project for the provision of next generation high-speed broadband access was launched in 29 municipal centers and 24 small areas in 19 sparsely-populated and remote regions. The sustainable development of the project goes into four main directions: promoting employment; increasing competitiveness; preserving the natural and cultural heritage.
Ø Furthermore, in the second half of 2013 the Single Electronic Communication Network (SECN) for the state administration was commissioned, which allowed to virtually connect the central and local administration networks into a single national information infrastructure by preserving their information independence, autonomous management and excluding any form of unregulated access to the information transferred. Currently we have 1300 institutions and their subdivisions connected. This commissioning will save over 15 million Euros annually of the institutions' budgets allocated to communication connectivity and data transfer.
Ø The next important task is the upgrade and improvement of the existing broadband infrastructures in order to makea gradual transition towards next generation broadband access networks. Combined public-private financing is to be used for the implementation of the relevant investment initiatives. The aim is to achieve 100 % broadband penetration on the territory of the whole country by 2020 by a gradual transition towards super-high-speed next generation access networks via new technological solutions, mainly optical, LTE and satellite connectivity. Due to their high parameters, those NGA networks will allow for the provision of new complex electronic services that correspond to the needs of the citizens and the business.
I would like to emphasize the fact that the Project for the development of high-speed broadband access and services for the citizens and the business in economically underdeveloped and remote regions in Bulgaria has been included in ITU Report on the WSIS Stocktaking 2013. We are ready to share our experience with other countries within the implementation process of the ITU-D Action Plan or the regional initiatives. The report contains a total of 14 Bulgarian projects in the field of information society, including also a few initiatives of the Ministry of Transport, Information Technology and Communications. I would like to use this opportunity to express my gratitude to the BDT for the collaboration on the regional initiative for the blind and visually impaired children in Bulgaria. The successful implementation of this initiative in the corresponding specialized schools in Bulgaria contributed to facilitate the ICT access in the process of learning for the visually impaired students in these schools. I strongly believe that in the next four years we would be able to strengthen and expand our fruitful cooperation aimed at improved accessibility in e-learning and e-education.
To conclude, I would like to use the opportunity to remind you that the Republic of Bulgaria has presented its candidature for re-election as a member of the ITU Council during the ITU Plenipotentiary Conference, which is to take place this autumn in Bussan, the Republic of Korea. I hope that you will consider favourably this candidature. In this way my country will make its modest contribution towards achieving our common goal - a connected world.
I wish you a very successful Conference. Thank you for your attention!