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The New Asia Africa Strategic Partnership (NAASP) Workshop on Satellite Technology and its Applications” (WSTIA)
 Jakarta, Indonesia
26 November 2007

Opening Remarks by ITU Secretary General Dr Hamadoun I. Touré

Mr. Chairman,
Excellencies,
Distinguished delegates,
Ladies and gentlemen,
 
It is indeed a pleasure for me to address you this morning on the occasion of the opening of “The New Asia Africa Strategic Partnership/NAASP’s Workshop in Satellite Technology and its Applications” (WSTIA).
 
I would like to congratulate the Government of Indonesia for graciously hosting this very important event. The decision to hold this event in Jakarta could be no better since as we all know, Indonesia is one of the first developing countries to operate its own domestic satellite system in the mid seventies.  Indonesia therefore is in a position to contribute to the success of the partnership and of this event.
 
I also commend the Asian-African senior officials particularly those who are involved in organizing this event for following through the New Asian-African Strategic Partnership launched by the its leaders in 2005 with the aim to promote peace, progress and cooperation for the mutual benefit of the two regions.  I am pleased to know that information and communication technology has been identified as one key area under this partnership. There is no doubt that ICTs can be a powerful instrument, increasing productivity, generating economic growth, job creation and employability and improving the quality of life for all.  ICTs are bridges to a better life and promote dialogue among people, nations, regions such as Asia and Africa and civilizations.
 
The focus of the next two days on Satellite Technology and its Applications is indeed very timely. As we all know, satellites are used extensively for many years for television, radio, telephony, data communication, other services such as weather mapping and forecasting and applications such as satellite-based e-learning, e-health and e-agriculture. Satellites, by their nature, can do things that other technologies cannot.  Satellite network can provide turnkey solutions. It has the potential to get around all the problems associated with reaching people in remote and rural areas and helping them connect across unimaginable distances.
 
Asia as a region is huge and diverse.  It is on one hand, at the forefront of technical innovation, spearheading the roll out of the latest technologies.  On the other hand, however, a significant proportion of countries in the region are still struggling to provide affordable telecommunication services to its citizens.   While three of the top ten economies with highest digital access index come from Asia, a significant number of countries belong to low-access economies.
 
ITU estimates that 45 per cent of Sub-Saharan villages are covered by a signal in 2006 – although only 7 percent of rural households are estimated to subscribe to mobile services.  Less than 3 per cent of Sub-Saharan villages had fixed line service, while under 0.5 per cent of them had a public internet facility.  As you may also know, the Connect Africa Summit was organized by ITU in Kigali, Rwanda last month where leaders committed to accelerate the implementation of the World Summit on the Information Society Plan of Action and the UN Millennium Development Goals. African leaders showed their willingness to collaborate with partners and set common goals for connectivity within Africa and with the rest of the world.
 
Telecommunication satellites have an obvious role to play in connectivity and bridging the digital divide which is still wide within countries and among countries in Africa and Asia. I am also aware that the New Asian-African Strategic Partnership covers three broad areas of partnership – political solidarity, economic cooperation and socio-cultural relations.  The objective of your meeting to enhance cooperation on satellite communication in Asia and Africa is indeed  relevant  as  it is a means to achieve and cuts across these three spheres.
 
Despite differences between countries in the region and between the two regions, there are countries in Asia and Africa that are pioneers and world leaders in satellite communications in such areas as manufacturing, launching services, satellite-based applications and their related human expertise.
 
For example, China has manufactured and launched into orbit its national as well as foreign satellites, recently for Nigerian Communication Satellite NIGCOMSAT- 1. India and Russia have signed a lunar exploration agreement to jointly develop a robotic orbiter and lander that would be launched in 2013. Japan’s JCSAT established a satellite based network for Remote Medical Treatment. Malaysia’s School Net Program is providing satellite broadband services to more than ten thousand schools throughout Malaysia, many of them outside the reach of wireline and wireless infrastructure.  In Africa, the Minister of Science and Technology stated that “South Africa has the skills and facilities to become a leading participant in the global space program”.
 
I am certain that with these developments in place, cooperation and joint activities on satellite communication within nations in Asia and Africa will not be farfetched.
 
ITU has a number of programmes and activities that aim to assist our Member States and Sector Members expand ICTs throughout the world and promote capacity building to advance, through the use of information and communication technologies, the achievement of national, regional and the internationally agreed development goals.
 
I invite all of you to actively participate in our work and continue to be forward-looking to meet the challenges of tomorrow.
 
I wish you a successful meeting.

 

 

 

 

 

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