South Africa (Republic of)

H.E. Dr. Siyabonga CWELE
Ministry of Telecommunications and Postal Services

21 October 2014

Secretary-General of the ITU, Dr Hamadoun Toure' and Members of the Executive Secretariat
Ministers, Heads of Delegation
Leaders of Industry and Regulators
Ladies and Gentlemen
Chairperson, we greatly appreciate your leadership of this important conference. 

I would also like thank the Republic of Korea for their wonderful hospitality, and for bringing the world to the beautiful city of Busan. This Plenipotentiary Conference is located most appropriately in one of the worlds ICT capitals.  The Republic of Korea remains an inspiration to all countries seeking to harness the use of ICT's as a tool for socio-economic development.

This is a historical year for South Africa, as we celebrate 20 years of freedom. Sadly, as you all know, before we reached this landmark we lost our icon Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela. I thank the ITU for its tribute and would like to indicate that South Africans were deeply moved that our grief was shared by so many people around the world.

Madiba himself recognised the importance of the ITU, stating at Telecom World by video link in 2009:

"We need a vast expansion of our communication and information network, and ITU — as the principal driving force behind international policy, technological development, cooperation and skills transfer — is an indispensable agent in this regard"

President Mandela, was inspired by the potential of ICTs as a tool for socio-economic development, and would have no doubt been proud of the efforts of the ITU community to produce Connect 2020, the 2016-19 Strategic Plan.   

We as the South African government have developed the National Development Plan (NDP) as our blueprint to overcome the apartheid legacy of poverty, inequality and unemployment.  The NDP recognises ICTs as a central element for development.  One of the key components of the NDP is to achieve universal access.

In 2013 South Africa adopted SA Connect, South Africa's broadband policy.  SA Connect gives clear direction on how we aim to reach our target of 100% broadband access by 2020. Our priority is to modernise and increase the affordability of ICT infrastructure and electronic communications services and implement programmes of digital and financial inclusion.  The ITU  Broadband commission report highlights SA Connect as an excellent example of a policy that combines supply and demand side measures for the roll-out of broadband.

The NDP also calls for greater 'engagement ICT institutions such as the ITU'.  Our involvement in the ITU is part of our long term commitment to work with the international community to contribute to and benefit from international development, peace, prosperity and the sharing of experiences and expertise. An immediate and continuing priority for South Africa is our participation in the ITU Council, to contribute to the effective governance of our organisation, and to support the developmental agenda, the realisation of the WSIS outcomes and the Millennium Development Goals. 

South Africa continues to play a significant role with regard to the international debates around the allocation of spectrum.  We regard spectrum as a critical and scarce resource.  The Digital Dividend can yield great opportunities to contribute to social and economic developmental programmes. Our participation in the Radio sector of the ITU has been particularly valuable in supporting national and regional developmental objectives in this regard.

We must encourage our citizens to utilise ICT's in everyday life, and as we expand our networks, we must also honour our responsibility to ensure they can do so in a safe and secure manner.  In 2012, South Africa adopted a cyber security policy and has since worked with members of the African Union on a continental cyber security framework, which was recently adopted by the African Union Summit.  

Africa is one of the fastest growing ICT markets in the world, and is increasingly a source of innovation and creativity. But for Africa realise its full potential in building the Knowledge economy and Information Society, we need equitable access to scarce global resources.   

South Africa is committed to contributing to ensure that the ITU continues to serve the needs of developing countries.  In this respect I am proud to announce our country's candidature for the ITU Council.

I would also like to commend and thank Dr Toure' for the excellent leadership you have provided to the ITU on behalf of Africa Group, and developing countries and all Member States and Sector Members. 

I Thank you.