Somalia (Federal Republic of)

H.E. Mr Mohamed IBRAHIM
Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications

22 October2014

Mr. Chairman, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, on behalf of the Somali people and my government, please accept very warm greetings from Somalia. I want to thank the government of Korea for the invitation and for hosting this event here in beautiful Busan.

The ITU Plenipotentiary Conference is an important event that impacts the development of national ICT policies and industries by adopting or revising the ITU constitution, convention, and resolutions. In view of the upcoming 150th anniversary of the ITU, the PP-14 will need to look beyond the next 4 years and establish the future direction of the ITU, such that it contributes to the prosperity of all mankind based on ICT growth that promotes, sustainability, innovation and collaboration.

The ICT Ministerial Conference, which was attended by ICT ministers from 50 states, adopted the Busan Declaration and reaffirmed the commitment to work together to realize ITU's vision, focusing on a hyper-connected society where cross border activities and connections become stronger than ever. In such a world, ICT sector development is no longer just an individual nation's issue. Strengthening mutual understanding and joint efforts will be seen as beneficial to all.

As the French writer Albert Camus said: "Real generosity towards the future lies in giving all to the present." We are not just talking about the future of the ITU, but the future of the ICT sector, which now cuts across every business sector worldwide and reaches into the lives of almost everyone on the planet. To be bold, to be visionary, and to dream – to dream big! Let’s take the advice of that great dreamer, Marcel Proust: "If a little dreaming is dangerous, the cure for it is not to dream less, but to dream more, to dream all the time."

After two and a half decades of significant challenges, Somalia is back and we are certainly giving all to the present and dreaming more and large, since we believe there is no short cut to rebuilding our country, but via creative thinking and use of ICT and new ideas. I would like to thank you for the warm welcome, as we become full members of the ITU. For 20 years we have challenged the Westphalian model, the rule of law and the whole notion of the nation-state, but let me assure you that having

been there and experienced that chaotic time, I am here to admit and acknowledge that there is certainly a role for government whether on a physical or virtual level in the management of the ICT sector. Despite the appetite for application of market models and the deregulation of the telecom sector as a norm, we should all be mindful of the need for rules and regulations. I report from a part of the world where the rule of law has been absent and the ICT sector, thus developed, has sometimes been used for negative purposes by people with self-interested and dangerous motives. The invisible unregulated hand is hard to track.

And yet, ICT sector is one of the success stories from Somalia! The telecom sector provides advanced solution to our people including accessing the web via mobile phone, and mobile money has become the fastest growing financial and business model. In fact Somalia is fast becoming an almost cashless society. Our current focus is on infrastructure, connectivity and content. Fibre optics has landed ... 3G and access to the internet is showing a steep upward trend and online content has increased many folds. It is my goal to build the necessary infrastructure to deliver Fibre To The Home (ftth) and Giga Internet before the next ITU plenipotentiary.

Statistics show that the Somali language based websites are in the thousands and increasing by the day. Our policy is to encourage the education sector to increase its contribution towards the ICT area. My government has offered all universities in Somalia, based domains and Google apps emails for all Somali students. It is also my Ministry’s policy to enable all Somali students to have access to the internet and provide them with based emails. Recently we launched free domains for all Somalis to enable them to have their own websites, enabling virtual connectivity among Somalis, especially the 1 million, close to 10% of our population. Streaming the Somali National TV online and providing robust enabling online environments for all Somalis is the foundation of the Somali national ICT strategy.

E-gov initiatives and online education are just a couple of the projects that we are shifting a lot of our resources into. We are encouraging our universities to provide the necessary educational foundation to enable our students to leapfrog into the use of new developments in the ICT sector, including; big data, cloud computing for advanced e-business initiatives and 3d printing for making prototypes and models, where building labs is often not possible. We want to do this because we believe access to information and knowledge will help us gain the capacity to develop our economy, secure our environment and enable our people to become productive citizens.

We also have ambitious projects, like using ID cards partially utilizing ipv6 numbers for the upcoming one person one vote election in Somalia since early 1960’s, and anticipating that one day all Somalis will have access to the internet. Apart from ID and health uses, these cards can be used for security purposes in a county where security challenges impact economic development. We will launch GPS based mail delivery, in a country where street numbers are not widely used to enhance the recent launching of postcodes representing areas, towns and cities. This gives you a taste of our dreams, creativity and belief in ICT innovation.

Due to the hard work and great courage of Somali - born entrepreneurs, a thriving vibrant private sector in telecommunication exists. But there are many challenges such as: the absence of a mechanism to implement the convergence of telecommunications with other sectors such as broadcasting and information technology. An absence of spectrum planning and management, the lack of a sound regulatory framework independent regulatory institution, licenses for established telecommunications networks and service operations. There is no frequency usage regulatory institution and as a consequence, some spectrum bands seem to be already saturated (e.g. 900 MHz and 1800 MHz) in certain urban area finally, the non-existence of an international gateway. Clearly there is still quite a bit of work ahead.

Allow me to take advantage of this opportunity again to thank the ITU and the government of Korea. Since Somalia has regained its voting rights but is not competing with any of the candidates, we wish them all good luck. We acknowledge the privilege that our voting rights bring and express hope that the candidates who win are aware of the role a cooperative, well-developed and integrated ICT sector will play in the dynamic reconstruction of Somalia.

I thank you all.