Plenipotentiary Conference 1998 -- Minneapolis USA

Media accreditation

Feature stories

Policy Statements

General Timetable
This week's schedule
Today's programme
Photo material
Frequently-Asked Questions
Practical information
Info for delegates
Last Update



Briefing Notes 3 of 14 October
Previous <=> Next

South Africa’s Minister for Posts, Telecommunications and Broadcasting announces the African Connection

H.E. Jay Naidoo, Minister for Posts, Telecommunications and Broadcasting of South Africa said that African leaders were now committed to find African solutions to African problems. "It will be an indictment on all of us if we do not concretely plot the path to the information revolution on the African continent" Mr Naidoo said. He explained that 44 African States had decided to create a continental strategy to create rules that are transparent, consistent and fair to attract the private sector investment necessary to expand Africa’s infrastructure to catapult Africa into the 21st century. He outlined the four challenges which this Plenipotentiary had to face: support the African Connection and help institute the rollout of telecommunications infrastructure to 700 million people of Africa, take active steps to close the gap between the information rich and information poor; restructure the ITU to ensure efficiency, strengthening regional presence and regional organizations and ensure representativity of least developed countries, women and all the world’s cultures and supporting gender equality at all levels of the ITU.

Bahamas reaffirms the key role of accounting rates as economic lifeblood of developing economies

The Honourable Anthony C. Rolle, Minister of State for Public enterprises for the Commonwealth of the Bahamas said that his country was privatizing its telecoms sector as part of the country’s political commitment to modernize their telecommunications. But he also recalled the key role of accounting rates in economic development and endorsed the multilateral process within the ITU to tackle these issues. "We applaud the work of the Focus Group in Study Group 3 of the Standardization Sector", he said, stressing the value of the series of tariff exercises being conducted in developing countries. The Minister called for an explicit programme of work in the Telecommunication Development Bureau to take forward the major conclusions of the second Policy Forum, in particular those relating to the implications of the GATS with respect to basic telecommunication services and cooperative actions between ITU Members to facilitate adaptation to the new telecommunication environment.

Pakistan’s Minister for Communications pleads for a free, competitive and liberalized telecommunications market and advocates universal service fund to feed disparity in accounting rate settlements

"From basic telephony to the GMPCS, privatization, liberalization, competition, the government is providing policy guidance and development initiatives" he said "to provide products and services that excel in quality, are available to everyone, and everywhere at affordable prices". To this end, the government has made it mandatory for all the operators (there are 121 licensed service providers today in the country) to have outreach programmes and has undertaken major initiatives on tariff rationalization, on service standards and on an internationally accepted regulatory regime. He told delegates that Pakistan had joined the WTO agreement on basic telecommunications and was considering joining the IT agreement. On the accounting rate issue, he said, "Any unilateral decision will have adverse and unhealthy effect on the world telecom sector. The decision [to reform the system] should be conducive to 75% of the world," he added. "It should be understood that any income from accounting rates goes back to the developed world for the purchase of the equipment, expert services and other similar items" he stated. "We propose that a universal service on global basis and world telecommunications community should create a fund, similar to the universal service fund to feed the disparity in accounting rate settlements" he concluded.

10 other speakers including 1 Minister addressed the Conference today with general policy statements.

A number of the full statements are available on request from the press office (fax: +1 612 596 5606).

In the afternoon, two committees met: Committee 5 on Strategic Policy and Plans and Committee 7 on management issues.

Strategic Policy and Plans

Committee 5 started to consider the proposals submitted in relation to the Recommendations of the ITU-2000 (for the full text of the recommendation, see It decided that its decisions would be passed on to Committee 6 so as to translate into regulatory texts the recommendations it would adopt. At its first meeting, it endorsed Recommendation 2, which, among others, provides the right of all Members of the sector to take part in the priority setting process for the activities of the sector. It also approved the first part of Recommendation 4 which provides that only one category of Sector Member would henceforth exist thus eliminating an inequality of rights among the Sector Members which had become irrelevant in a deregulated environment. But the last part could not find agreement as the wording was found by many to be too vague to be implemented and could actually infringe on existing rights of international organizations which currently have the right to speak at radio conferences. Recommendation 5 was also adopted albeit with a longer delay for opposing the admission of a Sector Member when a Member State authorizes direct application to the ITU. The delay beyond which an application sent directly to the Secretary-General was extended from the proposed 2 months to 4 months. A new category of members termed "associate member" was created by the adoption of Recommendation 6. However, concerns were expressed by a number of delegations who feared that this might prompt Sector Members to change categories with possible adverse effects on the financial base of the ITU. It was therefore decided that the matter be referred to Committee 7 to make sure that the adoption of the recommendation would not negatively impact on the finances of the ITU. Finally, Recommendation 13 which proposed not to elect Member States in arrears to the Council nor to any management bodies for Conferences if they were in arrears in their payment could not find a consensus. There was a general feeling that the proposal should be referred to the Plenary meeting for full discussion. No conclusion was however reached and the debate is to continue in Committee 5 tomorrow. The second part of the proposal was referred to Committee 7 because of its non-strategic nature.

Management issues

The discussions in Committee 7 focused essentially on Recommendation 22 of ITU-2000, which proposes, that the announcement of the class of contribution for Member States take place during the Plenipotentiary Conference. Views were divergent each, some putting forward the advantage of predictability and stability to the budgeting process others believing that the proposal could have adverse effect because, not knowing until the end of the Conference what the budgetary ceilings could be and because pledges can be increased at any time but cannot decrease until the following Plenipotentiary Conference, countries could have a tendency to pledge lower classes of contributions than they would normally. The discussion will continue tomorrow.

Election procedures adopted

The Conference agreed this morning on the election procedures and opted for holding the elections for the post of Secretary-General and Deputy Secretary-General separately. As for the elections of the members of the Radio Regulation Board, the matter will be taken up by the next Steering Committee on Thursday night.

As a result, the elections for the post of Secretary-General will be held on Tuesday, 20 October 1998.

For the list of candidates, their profile and programme, see

At the close of business today, 1029 delegates from 163 countries of which 193 representatives from 71 companies and organizations were taking part in the Conference.

The TIA exhibition closed today

A four-day technology organized by the Telecommunication Industry Association exhibition closed today. Held under the theme "applications of communication to serve mankind throughout the world", the demonstrations mainly featured Internet applications, telemedicine and distance learning. One of the highlights of the demonstrations is the announcement by Commerce Assistant Secretary Larry Irving of a conference to be held in the Spring of 1999 to discuss the growing international non-profit networking movement to be organized by the National Telecommunication and Information Administration (NTIA). Assistant Secretary Irving said that the conference responds to "the overwhelming interest generated by the ITU exhibits". "Delegate after delegate from around the world asked us how they might create these services in their countries", Irving said. "The lessons we have learned can be shared to spur the use of telecommunications to increase the quality of global life, understanding and cooperation", he concluded.n

Briefing notes: Previous <=> Next

Produced by ITU Press & Public Information Service

English | Français | Español