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Africa Region Preparatory Meeting for the World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly (WTSA-12)

Durban, South Africa, 21 May 2012




Bonjour et bienvenue à cette réunion préparatoire pour l’Assemblée mondiale de la normalisation des télécommunications (AMNT-12) pour la région Afrique, qui se tient ici dans la belle ville de Durban à l’aimable invitation du Département des Communications (DOC).

On behalf of the ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun Touré I would like to thank the administration of South Africa for hosting this event, and Mr Abdoulkarim Soumaila, Secretary General, ATU for his excellent collaboration and the support of ATU in planning the events this week.

Combining the ITU preparatory meeting with the ATU preparatory meeting makes it easier for everyone to participate and avoids unnecessary duplication and expense.

The great success of WTSA-08 was largely thanks to the excellent hosting skills of the South African Department of Communications. We were fortunate to have its support for our Kaleidoscope academic conference in Cape Town last December, and I am sure we will be in good hands again this week in particular with the assistance of Jim Paterson and Queen Montoedi.

This year is a very busy and significant year for ITU.

It started in early January with a Telecommunication Standardization Advisory Group (TSAG) meeting which was a very significant meeting establishing three new Focus Groups: From Innovations to Standards; Machine-to-machine (M2M) Service Layer; and network resilience to natural disasters. TSAG also decided on how to take forward the work of the Focus Groups on Smart Grids and Cloud Computing in Study Groups 11, 13 and 15.

The World Radiocommunication Conference 2012 reached a successful conclusion in February especially with regards to the future development of mobile communications in Africa. Over 3000 participants, representing 165 of ITU’s 193 Member States attended the four-week Conference, braving the extremely cold weather in Geneva. I am sure we will not have to suffer such weather for the WTSA in Dubai!

I am very confident that we will have excellent facilities in Dubai thanks to UAE’s commitment: a fantastic conference centre, excellent weather, a wide choice of superb hotels in the close vicinity at a very reasonable rate, a clean and safe environment, everything we need to ensure an excellent result.

We intend to model this year’s WTSA very much on the very successful WTSA in Johannesburg.

As in Johannesburg, the WTSA will be preceded by a one day 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.

Three weeks ago 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 African in association with ATU.

You may remember that in Johannesburg we also had a very interesting side exhibition of 3D TV products. We are also organising a similar small exhibition at this year’s WTSA showcasing some of the exciting new products that are being produced to ITU-T standards, especially IPTV.

The last WTSA in Johannesburg was very significant in many ways: it was the first WTSA where the time limits on chairmanships came into effect so we had many new chairmen and vice-chairmen.

The conference 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.

It also decided on a major restructuring of the Sector, something that had been attempted but never accomplished in previous WTSAs.

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, possibility to join meetings remotely, and the fact ITU-T is now dealing with topics of particular interest to developing countries, especially Africa.

Much of the success for the last WTSA was due to the substantial contributions from Africa. Good regional preparations and also informal discussions between regional representatives ahead of the conference were particularly useful.

I am sure that your deliberations this week will again help to achieve another very successful WTSA in Dubai this November.

To facilitate informal inter-regional discussions I am suggesting a meeting of regional representatives during the next TSAG on the evening of 2 July and I would hope the region can be represented.

I thank you all for your participation. Myself and my colleagues: Andrew Rugege, ITU Regional Director, Jean-Jacques Massima, Head of the ITU Area Office in Yaoundé, Alex Ntoko, Richard Hill, Preetam Maloor, Vijay Mauree, and Judith Quist will do all we can to facilitate a very successful meeting.



Thank you