Your Excellency, Mr. Chairman,
His Excellency the Minister of Communications of Portugal,
His Excellency, The Secretary General of the ITU,
Distinguished Participants of WTPF-09,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I wish to thank the Chair for giving me the opportunity to make
my intervention. It is my honour to greet the distinguished
guests and participants of the World Telecommunication Policy
Forum of the ITU in the beautiful and exciting city of Lisbon.
I bring to the WTPF-09, the goodwill and warm felicitations of
the President and people of Ghana and to acknowledge that
through the application of ICT infrastructure and services, and
also good governance, Ghana successfully transited from one
Government to another in the elections of December 2008.
My presence therefore, is to give assurance that Ghana’s faith
and commitment to the work of the ITU will not only endure, but
will be further strengthened to ensure that the noble ideals of
the Union are accomplished to bring global peace and prosperity
to all humankind.
My delegation and I wish to extend through you, Mr. Chairman,
our gratitude to the Government and people of this great country
for the warm welcome and excellent reception we have received
since our arrival. We are indeed satisfied with the organisation
of the WTPF-09 and we commend the organizing committee for the
Let me also commend the Secretary General of the ITU and his
team for convening the fourth World Telecommunication Policy
Forum (WTPF-09), in accordance with Council Resolution, to allow
for the exchange of views and information and thereby create a
shared vision on the issues arising from the emergence of new
telecommunication services and technologies and other relevant
policy issues in telecommunications.
We are conscious of the fact that though the WTPF will not
produce prescriptive regulatory outcomes or outputs with binding
force, it will prepare reports and, where appropriate, opinions
to guide Member States, Sector Members and ITU meetings.
Be as it may, Decision 9 of the Antalya Plenipotentiary
Conference mandated the convening of the fourth WTPF in the
first quarter of 2009 to discuss and exchange views on a number
of themes, noting:
- that convergence, including Internet-related
public policy matters, is one of the topics of high current
interest to ITU Member States and Sector Members;
- that the continued development of convergence,
next-generation networks, and Internet also has significant
implications for several domains, particularly for
capacity-building, especially in developing countries;
- that a study of emerging telecommunications policy and
regulatory issues is also amongst the topics of high current
interest to ITU Member States and Sector Members;
- that a study of new and emerging issues as referred to
in Resolution 146 (Antalya, 2006) is among the topics of
high current interest to ITU Member States and Sector
The Secretary General has provided us with a comprehensive
report that captures the imagination of all stakeholders of the
Information Society. The report also adequately establishes the
lead role expected of the ITU and it helps to give effect to the
decisions taken at the World Summit on the Information Society,
and the other initiatives promoted by the ITU.
The challenge confronting the communications sector today, is
the global economic meltdown and its likely consequences on
investment in infrastructure especially in the developing
countries. Our respective countries have undertaken significant
reforms in the telecommunications sector in expectation of
finding the ‘Missing Link’, addressing issues of the ‘Digital
Divide’ and now, responding to the Declarations and Plan of
Action of WSIS. Suddenly, these efforts appear to be threatened
and undermined by the present crises.
We look to the WTPF-09 to give us a proper understanding of the
current global environment and come out with practical outcomes
that will guide us in our policy and regulation alignments to
enable our countries attain and surpass the targets of the
As we know, the ITU statistics reveal today, Africa has over 250
million mobile subscribers, but this represents penetration rate
of approximately 30 percent of the entire population of the
In the area of the Internet, Africa needs to redouble its
efforts to catch up and bridge the Digital Divide. We are told
that the estimate of Internet users in Africa stands at 50
million. Basically, half of this is located in northern Africa
and in the Republic of South Africa, meaning that Internet
connection is available to 1 out of 20 Africans with a further
reduction of 3% in sub-Saharan Africa.
This scenario therefore places great responsibilities on us
the Policy-makers, if we are to achieve ITU objectives, to
- expand broadband backbone infrastructure and access
- expand rural connectivity with special emphasis on our
- adopt key regulatory measures that promote affordable
widespread access to a full range of broadband ICT services,
- provide appropriate ICT services and applications, and
- give special weight to capacity-building.
The hosting of the WTSA-08 in Africa provided a unique
opportunity to address some of the unique concerns Africa and
the developing countries, for that matter. It is our fervent
hope that the outcomes of the WTSA-08 will be carefully
considered within the context of this important
With regard to our comments on the Secretary General’s report,
we virtually agree on the major issues contained in the report.
We find for instance, the subject on Convergence to be
all-encompassing. In our consideration, Convergence has great
impact on E-Government, which is a major policy commitment by my
Government due to the increasing use of electronic means to
facilitate communication with citizens to disseminate
information more quickly and efficiently. It was critical in our
recent peaceful elections.Convergence also impacts on other
services, including: education; health; financial services; and
agriculture, including disaster warning systems using wide area
Our challenge is to build capacity in our people to acquire
the relevant skills and knowledge for a converged environment.
Let us see how our policies can promote the development of the
requisite infrastructure and also provide training
Related to this, is that we require a clear understanding of
Next Generation Networks (NGN) and its relation to the Internet
to guide us in our policy and regulatory actions. Though these
are inter-related in a large measure, we notice that the
different philosophies underlying these technologies require
different treatment. Ghana pursues a technology-neutral policy
environment and we are particular with the treatment of Quality
of Service issues in the country. This can not be guaranteed in
the treatment of the Internet.
The transition to NGNs also brings implications for end-users,
regulators, operators and service providers alike, especially
with regard to competition and pricing, and this raises various
public policy issues including enabling the required
investments, reliability, security and safety.
In the particular case of the Internet, We find the treatment
of the critical issues considered by WSIS still unresolved. Much
as the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) is trying to forge
consensus on the treatment of the tricky issues, consensus by
the stakeholders is still proving elusive. The management of
Internet resources, issues of multilingualism, diversity are
areas Ghana considers critical to the building of the
We need a proper understanding and appreciation of public policy
responsibility of Governments to meet the present security
requirements of the Internet, as we tackle the issue of
International Internet Interconnection because this is central
in our infrastructure development efforts to use the Internet
for national development and inclusion.
On matters relating to the International Telecommunication
Regulations (ITRs), we acknowledge that these are a treaty-level
instrument of the ITU. The ITRs establish general principles
relating to the provision and operation of international
telecommunications and they facilitate global interconnection
and interoperability of telecommunication infrastructure. This
underpins the harmonious development and efficient operation of
technical facilities, promote the efficiency and availability of
international telecommunication services and facilitate billions
of dollars in settlements.
The Plenipotentiary Conference of 2006 made substantial
progress and Resolution 146 called for review through consensus
on a review process, reflecting the divergent opinion among
Member States regarding the future treatment of the ITRs.
We expect WPTF-09 to prepare reports and, where appropriate,
opinions for consideration by Member States, Sector Members,
relevant ITU meetings and Council and to benefit the World
Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) which
would be convened in 2012 at ITU as part of the recommendations
for a separate process of review.
The review of the ITRs is therefore necessary to give us
clarification and understanding in the use of certain terms that
have different meanings in our different jurisdictions.
As I come to the conclusion of my intervention, I wish to
acknowledge that a great responsibility has been entrusted to
your care. The WTPF-09 is a landmark event. There is so much it
can provide to empower the work of the ITU and guide global
My delegation and I have every confidence in your capacity to
steer proceedings to a successful end. Mr Chairman, delegation
of Ghana wants to help you achieve something that will be looked
back upon as a success: an outcome that will benefit the people
in all of our countries.
I hope sincerely that those with the least to hope for, will be
the most to gain.
Thank you for your kind attention.