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3rd African Group Preparatory Meeting for WTSA-12 and WCIT-12

Durban, South Africa, 25 September 2012


Your excellency Professor Kofi Owoonor, Chairman, Council of State, Republic of Ghana
Your excellency Haruna Idrissu, Minister of Communications, Republic of Ghana
Mr Abdulkarim Sumaila, Secretary-General ATU
Mr Paarock Van Percy, Director General, NCA, Ghana
Mr Andrew Rugege, Director Regional Office for Africa
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen

Bonjour. C’est un grand plaisir de participer à cette réunion préparatoire pour l’Assemblée mondiale de la normalisation des télécommunications (AMNT-12), et la Conférence mondiale des télécommunications internationales (CMTI-12), pour la région d’Afrique.

J'aimerais remercier le Secrétaire Général d'ATU Abdoulkarim Soumaila, d’avoir invité l'UIT à être ici.

Le Secrétaire Général de l’UIT Hamadoun Touré exprime ses bons souhaits et remercîment pour la collaboration excellente que nous avons avec ATU.

It is also a great pleasure for me to be back in Ghana again, and the beautiful city of Accra. We are very grateful for the excellent support we have from Ghana and especially the Honourable Minister Haruna Iddrisu who was good enough to join us for the Green Standards Week in Paris last week.

Ladies and Gentlemen

We are well down the road to Dubai.

We are very close to WCIT… and even closer to WTSA. This is therefore a particularly important meeting to refine positions ahead of these two very important events. I am pleased to see such wide participation.

These final meetings are very important and will hopefully reduce the number of options to be considered at WCIT.

ITU Council at its July 2012 meeting decided to make public the proposals submitted to its working group (TD64) and to allow all stakeholders to express their views and opinions on them and any other WCIT-related matter. The website to allow for public comments is operational and has been collecting comments since mid August.

Many countries have already conducted public consultations. Indeed all ITU Member States and all Sector Members have full access to all WCIT documents and can share them within their constituencies. Also they can be translated into other languages in addition to the six official languages so that they can encompass all citizens and ensure the widespread engagement of civil society in the important issues that are being debated in the run up to WCIT.

In addition, members as well as many non-members have had an opportunity to comment on, and influence, these proposals, in particular at regional preparatory meetings such as this.

We will have an opportunity to compare the regional proposals at a Briefing Session that will be held in Geneva on 8-9 October. This event will be chaired by the nominated chairman of WCIT - Mohamed Al-Ghanim and will be open to all Member States and Sector Members. WCIT will be discussed on 8th and morning of 9th and WTSA in the afternoon of the 9th. The intention is to have proposals from each region presented in turn to allow a thorough understanding of what is being proposed before we get to Dubai. A separate briefing session on WCIT for civil society will be held on the afternoon of 9th.

WCIT has attracted an incredible amount of attention – probably more than any other ITU conference in its long history. Not only does this illustrate the much increased relevance of a global treaty on international telecommunications but also ITU’s role in the sector that affects almost everyone on the planet, as well as economies, businesses and society.

The 1988 ITRs were instrumental in enabling the development of today’s global information society, and the new ITRs should have a positive impact on ensuring its further growth.

Technical, policy and economic challenges to international telecommunications have always been resolved by ITU’s membership to the benefit of all the world’s users – and I am sure WCIT will be no exception.

The conference will address many issues that were not on the table in 1988: misuse of numbering; fraud; security; high data volumes and falling unit prices putting pressure on infrastructure investment; high cost of Internet connectivity in many developing countries; high international mobile roaming charges; climate change, e-waste and accessibility. Many of these have already been addressed by this region and others are on this week’s agenda.

Of course Internet related issues are attracting the most attention. ITU’s mandate regarding the Internet is clearly laid down in the ITU Plenipotentiary Conference Resolutions 101, 102, and 133.

WCIT will address these challenges that will affect the development of a fully inclusive information society over the next decades; a society that ensures that all the world's citizens have equitable, affordable and secure access to voice, video and data.

With so many of ITU’s membership exerting so much energy on the preparations for WCIT I am sure it will be a success.

Turning to WTSA.

As in Johannesburg, this WTSA will be preceded by a one day Global Standards Symposium (GSS) in which ministers, regulators, heads of other international, regional and major national standards bodies, and industry from the different regions of the world will discuss global ICT standards challenges with a focus on the intersection between the ICT sector and other vertical sectors. The Chairman of the GSS will present the conclusions of the GSS to the first Plenary meeting of the WTSA.

At WTSA-08 we started the tradition of having three side-events on three separate evenings during the first week. We are planning to do the same this year.

e-Health standards will be the subject of one, the others will be on ICT innovation in developing countries, and resilience of networks to natural disasters.

In April ITU and World Health Organisation (WHO) held a joint workshop on e-Health standards and interoperability. There is a real problem of lack of interoperability of proprietary e-Health standards. We have agreed with WHO to hold a series of these workshops in the regions and would be interested in organizing one in Africa in association with ATU.

The last WTSA identified many new areas of work. Many of these were supported by common proposals from Africa, such as climate change, cybersecurity, bridging the standardization gap, accessibility to ICTs for persons with disabilities, and in particular conformance and interoperability testing.

There were many new Resolutions adopted including those initiating the new academia membership, the reduced sector membership fee for companies from certain developing countries, and what is now the Council Working Group on international Internet-related public policy issues.

Since Johannesburg I am very pleased to say we have seen a significant increase in the participation in ITU-T especially from Africa. This has been helped by active participation from Africa in the leadership of the Study Groups, the very successful regional Study Groups meetings, fellowships to all ITU-T study group and TSAG meetings, more workshops and meetings in the region, the possibility to join meetings remotely, and the fact ITU-T is now dealing with topics of particular interest to developing countries, especially Africa.

Mesdames et messieurs

Nous avons introduit aussi l'interprétation dans les réunions Plénière de toutes les commissions d’UIT-T, et bien sûr, dans les réunions des commissions régionales africaines. Nous aimerions faire plus, et je suis conscient que beaucoup de délégués francophones trouvent difficile de participer en anglais. Malheureusement le budget d'UIT-T est seulement 8% du budget d'UIT. Donc, nous n'avons pas les fonds. Pour les réunions en Afrique c'est plus facile parce que nous utilisons l'interprétation et la traduction locales. Par exemple, pour les réunions des commissions 5 et 12 africaines au Bénin cette année, nous avons pu traduire à un coût de $20 par page comparé à $200 par page à Genève.

Je suis sûr que la réunion de cette semaine aidera à obtenir encore une autre Assemblée très réussie à Dubaï en novembre.

Je vous souhaite une très bonne réunion.