Mr Chairman; Your Excellencies; Secretary General of the ITU; distinguished guest; ladies and gentlemen
May I start by relaying the greetings and best wishes of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, His Excellency President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, and of the people of Nigeria. Permit me to also commend the Government and people of the Republic of Korea for the hospitality extended to my delegation since our arrival to this country and to the International Telecommunication Union for the excellent arrangements made for this Conference. I would also like to join others in commending the Secretary General of the ITU, Dr. Hamadoun Toure, and his team for the great work they have done in steering the affairs of the Union over the past four years.
As the years go by we see no abating of the infusion of ICTs in everyday life. Irrespective of which part of the world we live, and regardless of income levels, ICTs occupy several intersections between the needs of citizens and the resources required to meet them.
Recent statistics predict that by the end of this year, forty percent of the global population will be online and given current growth rates, half of the world’s population is likely to be online by 2017.
Mobile cellular subscriptions overtook fixed-line subscriptions globally in 2002 and have continued to grow exponentially since. By the end of 2014 mobile cellular subscriptions are estimated to exceed 6.9 billion with three-quarters of the subscriptions coming from the developing world.
As more people come online for the first time, many will do so using a mobile cellular phone and the majority will be from the developing world. Predictions are that mobile internet use in Africa will increase twenty fold in the next five years … this is double the estimated growth rate in the rest of the world.
The combination of the internet and mobile cellular phones opens up tremendous opportunities for countries like Nigeria. In the past four years we have seen mobile subscription increase from 87 million active sim cards to over 131 million and mobile internet subscription stood at 67 million in June this year.
The steep increase in mobile use is driven by a number of factors, in particular the additional ways in which mobile phones are being used in Nigeria. Beyond conducting voice conversations, mobile phones are often the preferred channel for receiving data and for conducting transactions – our phones are our cameras, wallets, shops, music players, movie screens, and information or service centres.
Our policy focus in Nigeria is in step with the reality of this mobile internet revolution: we are looking to create a viable environment for the proliferation of lower priced devices, increased investment in network infrastructure, and increased availability of spectrum for mobile broadband, in the knowledge that these will further drive growth.
Through the implementation of our National ICT Policy, National Broadband Roadmap, and Guidelines for Nigerian Content in ICT, we are bringing greater clarity and predictability to the Nigerian ICT sector. Importantly, our policy framework is in line with the ITU’s Strategic Plan for 2016-2019, particularly its identified goals and targets of Growth, Inclusiveness, Sustainability, and Innovation and Partnership.
With respect to growth, the primary contribution of the telecommunications and information services sector to Nigeria’s GDP is growing and was about ten and a half percent (10.44%) in 2013.
The sector also indirectly impacts GDP through its influence on other key sectors; for example, in the same period (2013), ICTs were responsible for twelve percent (12.05%) of the value added by the Finance and Insurance sector to GDP. In terms of social growth, ICTs are helping Government to meet health objectives, and are amplifying benefits in the education and agriculture sectors. For example a combination of the use of an Android app, Facebook and twitter were instrumental in Nigeria’s fight to contain the Ebola virus. With Ebola, time is very important. The phone app helped in reducing reporting times of infections by seventy-five percent: test results were scanned to tablets and uploaded to emergency databases and field teams got text message alerts on their phones informing them of the results.
The Union’s growth priority of enabling and fostering access to and increased use of telecommunications/ICTs therefore resonates with Nigeria, both economically and socially.
Nigeria is also using telecommunications and ICTs to build a more inclusive society. Our broadband initiatives, which are being implemented across technologies and at various levels of governance, are in line with the Union’s priority of bridging the digital divide and providing broadband for all. Furthermore, these initiatives are cognisant of the needs of women and girls, as well as other marginalised groups of our society.
The many intersecting points between technology and physical aspects of our lives throw up a number of challenges. Nigeria’s experience in fighting terrorism echoes that of other countries and we are actively (and continuously) utilising technology to achieve national security objectives whilst respecting civil liberties. Nigeria is committed to a sustainable ICT environment (including the internet) at a global level, as well as within its national boundaries.
This commitment is exemplified in our adoption of a multistakeholder approach to policy formulation and programme/project design. We believe in partnerships; for example we have been working with the Government of South Korea, through the Korean International Co-operation Agency, in the development of our e-Government strategy. Our deployment of ICT within government is driving transparency and efficiency in public service delivery; over the past two years, we have moved upward by 21 places in the United Nation’s Global eGovernment Development Index, and by 22 places in its eParticipation Index.
Our modest successes in increasing penetration, access and utilisation of ICTs brings its own challenges. Cybersecurity, cybercrime, inappropriate and harmful content, misinformation, and e-waste are some of the issues we have to address. The accelerating pace at which significant proportions of developing country populations are coming online necessitates a corresponding increase in the participation of developing country stakeholders in the determination of how the internet is governed and managed. Our aim in doing this should be to facilitate the evolution of the Internet into a platform that serves the needs of a truly global population.
Mr Chairman, Nigeria has been an active member of the Union; we are Vice-Chair of a number of Study Groups and have been a member of the Council for over a decade. I wish to inform the Conference that His Excellency President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan has approved the presentation of Nigeria for re-election into the ITU Council and that the nation would be honoured to again serve the Union in this capacity. Nigeria has valuable experience to share, and as we are imbibing best practices from other countries we are also making concrete attempts to tell our own ICT story.
President Jonathan also approved the presentation of Mr Shola Taylor as Nigeria’s candidate for the post of Deputy Secretary General. Mr Taylor is not only versed in the operation of the ITU, having held several full-time and part-time positions within the Union, but has also worked in the telecommunications industry in both developed and developing economies. He therefore fully grasps the broad range of issues, challenges and opportunities that the ITU will have to address in the coming years, and is extremely well prepared to support the elected Secretary-General in steering the Union to deliver on the expected outcomes of its stakeholders.
I hereby solicit your invaluable support for our candidature for reelection into the ITU Council and that of Mr Shola Taylor for the post of Deputy Secretary General of the ITU.
Thank you, Mr Chairman.