"ICT for Development and Empowerment of Africa"
H.E. Dr. Edward K. Omane, Boamah, Minister for Communications and Technology, Ghana
H.E. P.V. Obeng, Senior Presidential Advisor and Chairman of National Development Planning Commission
Mr. K.Y. Amoako, for Executive Secretary of UNECA
Mr. Andrew Rugege, Regional Director, ITU
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
A very good morning to you all and welcome!
It gives me great pleasure and honor to be here in Accra. I feel very much at home. You all know, I spent 12 years working on ICT development projects for Africa. I spent ten of those years, as Head of the ITU Regional Office for Africa.
Let me now thank the Government of Ghana for the very warm welcome and truly African hospitality extended to all of us. The facilities that have been provided to us are excellent. I have no doubt that we will have an excellent meeting.
What a great honor for us to have H.E. Dr. Edward K. Omane, Boamah, Minister for Communications and Technology, Ghana gracing this opening ceremony! Excellency, I would like to sincerely thank you for your commitment to the ITU, this Regional Development Forum, and the upcoming Regional Preparatory Meeting.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The Regional Development Forum (RDF) is an annual event aimed at providing a platform for sharing ICT information and best practice in the region. It addresses challenges confronting the region and explores how to create opportunities using practical policy, legal, and regulatory instruments. . Most importantly, it is about people. People, because without personal and institutional relationships, there is very little that we could achieve. Financing needs and partnerships are possible when people talk to each other. Sharing of knowledge and know-how requires people. To make that knowledge meaningful and beneficial to countries, communities and households, it has to be people-oriented. This is what the RDF seeks to achieve.
As the RDF brings together stakeholders with an interest that goes beyond ICTs, let us have an open, honest and constructive dialogue that is life-changing for society as a whole.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The theme of this RDF is: ICT for Development and Empowerment of Africa. This theme says it all. Our primary goal is not just to develop and deploy technologies. Our aim is to make a difference to the ordinary people and ultimately establish networked Knowledge Societies. Owing to the importance of the issues to be discussed today, I decided that the output of this RDF will be submitted to the RPM and presented by the Chairman of the RDF. That way, we may enhance the region's preparations for the World Telecommunication Development Conference to be held in Egypt from 31 March to 11 April 2014.
Let me now turn to the main theme of this RDF which is mainly broadband. We now all live in a world with over six billion mobile cellular subscriptions. Africa has for the past few years accounted for the fastest growth as developed markets are getting saturated. The next crucial step is for us to replicate the mobile miracle for broadband, on a global scale. Two thirds of the world's people still have no access to the Internet at all, let alone a broadband connection. Broadband is not just about high-speed Internet connectivity and accessing more data, faster. Broadband is a set of transformative technologies, which are fundamentally changing the way we live - and which can help ensure sustainable social and economic growth not just in the rich world, but in every country, rich and poor, developed and developing.
Broadband changes the way we live and the way we do things. Let me list a few of the benefits:
- Broadband helps to deliver essential services such as health, education and good government.
- Broadband helps us address the biggest issues of our time - such as climate change and environmental sustainability.
- And it revolutionizes the way goods and services are created, delivered and used in the digital economy.
- Already, broadband is bringing mobile banking to millions of people across the developing worlds that do not have conventional bank accounts.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
On my part, in order to take advantage of the rapid growth of ICTs, I recently launched three initiatives namely:
1. m-Powering Development; which looks at how best the countries could capitalize on the rapid growth of mobile subscriptions and see how best to bring services to the finger-tips of citizens. This would be possible through partnerships. The first meeting of the Advisory Board will take place in Geneva on the 15th of this month.
2. Smart Sustainable Development Model; which looks at how best we could link ICT for Development and ICT for Disaster Management for the benefit of mankind. The Advisory Board will meet for the first time on 18th of this month, in Geneva.
3. ITU Academy; which provides a platform for knowledge sharing and seeks to be a repository of information that will support capacity building efforts.
You will have two of these initiatives presented in detail during this RDF today.
In conclusion, I would like once again, to welcome you to this Regional Development Forum for Africa. For those who will be with us in the RPM tomorrow, we will have another opportunity to continue with our conversation, exchange of ideas and debate on how to shape the ICT agenda from 2015 to 2018.
Thank you for your attention and
I wish you fruitful discussions.