Statement from the Transitional Islamic
Government of Afghanistan, Ministry of Communications
Ladies and Gentlemen;
First of all, let me thank the Republic
of Tunisia for hosting the second phase of the WSIS. I
congratulate the organizers for the excellent arrangements
they made for this important summit in the beautiful country
During 25 years of war, the people of
Afghanistan have survived some of the most horrific and
appalling circumstances the modern world has witnessed.
Massive devastation has left 2 whole generations of Afghans
with nothing but chaos.
While ICT was newly introduced to the
world, Afghanistan stayed disconnected. One can only imagine
that the people of Afghanistan remain as one of the most
affected by the digital gap.
But, while we remember the past, we do
not remain frozen in it. The spirit, which kept Afghans
alive against all odds in the past, is today's striving
force to a new era of international and regional
Our new constitution and our recent
national elections are the cornerstones of our efforts to
rebuild a democratic state with effective national
institutions. The new Constitution, one of the most
enlightened in the region, is a balanced charter that
guarantees equal rights and full participation to the people
of Afghanistan in all spheres of life.
Our people are fully utilizing the newly
acquired constitutional rights, freedoms and opportunities.
Afghan women are returning to school and to the workplace,
and participating in the politics. We are experiencing
successes in education, health care and development of a
market economy. Kabul is one of the fastest growing city in
Asia. Other major cities in the country are flourishing with
business and reconstruction. The Afghan private sector has
now access to the newly established international banking
services. Highways are being reconstructed. Families are
being reunited as three million refugees have returned to
their homes and villages. People have set up more than 14
independent and privately owned radio and TV stations
throughout the country. More than 270 newspapers and
periodicals are published. About 5.6 million children have
returned to school.
With help from the international
community, we have trained a new police force of some 60,000
as well as a special force to conduct counter-narcotics
operations. The new Afghan National Army, currently 40,000
strong, is increasingly taking the responsibility for
security throughout the country.
The people of Afghanistan have put their
trust in the international community and recognize its role
in the establishment of a stable, democratic Afghanistan.
Afghans recognize the benefits of this relationship and are
grateful for the international security and economic support
we have received over the last four years
The people of Afghanistan adopted
principles of a free market economy in the new constitution
and the Government has taken concrete steps to implement
that vision. Thus, the growth of the private sector is a
high priority for the Government. The private sector must be
the driver of economic growth and reform efforts are
focusing on removing obstacles to private sector
development. As a result, hundreds of millions of dollars of
investment have flowed into Afghanistan. Return on limited
international investment in Afghanistan has been
tremendously good, as evidenced by an economic growth rate
of 30% last year and continuing at 20% this year, according
to the World Bank.
The biggest success has been in the area
of telecom and ICT. The Ministry of Communication has made
In 2002, with the inauguration of the
Transitional Islamic State of Afghanistan, 2 Mobile
operators were licensed, attracting $300m private investment
to Afghanistan. Within 3 years, the number of subscribers
went from an initial 15tsd to 1 million today. To further
emphasize on a free market society and looking at the
potential of the telecom sector, the Ministry of
Communication has issued 2 new GSM licenses for a total of
24 out of 34 provincial capitals have
been connected to the world via voice and data. We target to
connect all remaining provincial capitals within the next
Ladies and Gentlemen:
Where extremists have tried to build
walls, we are building bridges.
The Ministry of Communication further
issued 9 ISP licenses, enabling Afghans to take an active
part in the information society.
Through a program called Local Fixed
Service Providers License we speeded up the process of
connecting our rural areas with the rest of the world.
The reconstruction of Afghanistan is a
joint long term project. As ICT is one of the key factors
for rapid growth and stabilization of the country, 'the
Ministry of Communication realized the need for and created
an ICT Council, to better coordinate efforts between state,
government, private sector, donor nations, and NGO's.
Afghanistan, currently being a paper
based government is striving to move towards a paper less
administrative culture. Our national data center, which will
be lunched in 2007, will be a major step towards our vision
Ladies and Gentlemen:
During history, Afghanistan has stood
center-stage in major regional and global events. From the
conquests of Alexander the Great to the emergence of Afghan
empires and from the Cold War to the global war against
terror, Afghanistan's destiny has been inseparably linked
with the political
evolution throughout our region and,
indeed, throughout the world. Commerce and trade has been
one of the vital links in this chain as traders travelled
the ancient Silk Road and found safe passage through
Afghanistan. Just as the Silk Road enabled the trading of
goods and knowledge between east and the west, Afghanistan
is once more fulfilling its historic role as a bridge
between cultures, countries and civilizations. The Ministry
of Communication initialized the installation of a fiber
optics ring across the country, with links to our neighbors
Iran, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. Our
fiber optics ring will connect the Trans-Europe-Asia
backbone in the north with the Submarine fiber in the south
and emerge as the center-stage for a digital silk road.
Our achievements so far are all in line
with the agendas of the WSIS in Geneva and Tunisia and use
ICT towards the social economic development of Afghanistan.
Our projects promote equal access to information, betterment
of individual life, stable business environments, making
public services accessible, and active coordination between
entities and countries.
Today in Tunisia, something unprecedented
is taking place. In the true spirit of co-operation, people
from all corners of the world, people from different faiths,
different cultures and backgrounds, help to foster the use
of ICT. It is clear that, without this co-operation, the
world society would not accomplish the difficult tasks which
lay ahead in bridging the digital gap.