Mr. Abdoulkarim Soumaila, Secretary General of the African Telecommunications Union (ATU);
Mr. Brahima Sanou, Director, Telecommunications Development Bureau, International Telecommunications Union (ITU);
Mr. Ngene Gituku, Chairman of the Board of Director, Communications Authority of Kenya (CA);
Mr. Francis Wangusi, Director General, CA;
Chairman of the 4th African Preparatory Meeting for ITU PP-18
Heads of Delegation
Representatives of regional and international organizations present,
- I am delighted to join you at this African Preparatory Meeting for the 2018 International Telecommunications Union (ITU) Plenipotentiary Conference (ITU PP-18). It is heartening to see the entire African region and indeed other regions of the world converge in Nairobi to deliberate on various aspects that will influence global ICT policy and development in the next five years.
- On behalf of the Government of Kenya, I wish to express our sincere gratitude to the ITU and our very own African Telecommunications Union (ATU) for the honour bestowed on Kenya to host this important meeting.
- I am pleased to note that this preparatory meeting for the ITU Plenipotentiary Conference 2018 is the culmination of a process that began way back in July 2017 in Zimbabwe, with subsequent meetings held Nigeria and Algeria in March and June respectively this year.
- This trend of holding regional caucuses in readiness for participation in global ICT policy and treaty making conferences is laudable and needs to be sustained. I say this because it not only lays a firm foundation for Africa to participate effectively in such forums but also to safeguard its interests at the global arena. Indeed, the development of African Common Proposals marks a significant step in harmonizing our national and sub-regional positions and ensuring that Africa’s voice is heard at the global decision-making platforms.
- Through these regional caucuses, we re-affirm Africa’s quest to speak with one voice in the global ICT arena. I have no doubt that this is the sure way of guaranteeing mutually beneficial outcomes for all of us. Africa’s Agenda 2063 advocates the need to enhance Africa’s united voice and collective action in global negotiations, through pooled sovereignty, integration, and the development of common African positions.
Distinguished delegates, Ladies and gentlemen,
- As we convene here to develop our common proposals to the upcoming ITU Plenipotentiary Conference, we must not lose sight of the challenges that have in the past suppressed our resource-rich continent from realizing its development potential.
- The outcomes of our past failings at negotiations speak for themselves. Africa today is ranked at the bottom of all economic indicators relative to other regions of the world. Our past failings at negotiations have also seen our vast natural wealth exploited, to the benefit of other regions.
- Africa lost out during the first industrial revolution, and consequently remains a net importer of goods manufactured using either our agricultural produce or our natural resources. If we are not proactive, we stand to lose out in the unfolding fourth industrial revolution, which is driven by ICTs.
- I must hasten to add here that all is not lost for the region as ICTs hold a huge promise to fundamentally transform Africa’s socio-economic prospects. Statistics show that Africa is the world’s second largest mobile market by connections after Asia and the fastest growing mobile market globally. Currently, the mobile ecosystem in Africa generates approximately USD 56 billion or 3.5% of the total GDP.
- At the same time, infrastructure connectivity has improved with new capacity increasingly being generated, especially for broadband. Investments that now exceed USD 3.8 billion have generated new capacity of 24 Gigabits per second.
- The GSMA estimates that mobile connections will rise to an average penetration of 49% in the region by 2020, making the mobile industry contribute USD 166 billion to the African economies. This is an equivalent of 8% of GDP in sub-Saharan Africa.
- It is evident that through collective effort, we can seize the opportunity to grow these resources and even create new economic models that can boost the capacity we currently have. Although Africa still lags behind in the global digital race, these statistics clearly point to a region that is poised for digital transformation.
- The Africa Agenda 2063 aptly challenges the region to come up with new and transformative technologies to boost our competitiveness on the global stage. We must therefore re-think how we can be able to turn around our fortunes if we are to narrow this gaping divide. This can only work if we are able to build consensus on issues that are a priority to us and those which can guarantee mutually beneficial outcomes for all of us.
- Broadband connectivity is still very low with less than 35% of our population in Africa living within 5km of prime traffic arteries of the Internet.
- We certainly need new investment and operating models to improve the situation. Our conversations must address the need to establish sustainable foundations for more ubiquitous broadband.
- The Internet, and new technologies in general will contribute significantly towards the achievement of sustainable development goals. However, we must remain conscious of the fact that the Internet can also be used negatively for polarization, division and criminal activity.
- As policy makers charged with the responsibility of shaping the digital future, our primary focus should be to use the Internet to improve human lives, by establishing governance structures that support innovation and in the same vein respect human rights and protect society.
Distinguished Guests, Ladies and gentlemen
- As we prepare for the discussions at the both the ATU and ITU Plenipotentiary Conferences, let us focus on the policies that allow new technologies to thrive so that Africa can harness the potential that these technologies portend.
- I am pleased to note that the ICT market in Kenya continues to exhibit positive outlook in most business segments. Mobile penetration now stands at 95%, while broadband penetration is at 42%.
- Our globally-acclaimed mobile money services have continued to post positive growth, with mobile commerce transactions valued at more than USD 12 .9 billion between January and March 2018.
- The adoption of ICTs both by private enterprises and government continues to grow with more services now available online.
- The innovation sub-sector is on a growth trajectory with the efforts currently underway to scale up ICT innovations.
Distinguished delegates, Ladies and gentlemen,
- By working together as stakeholders, we can achieve unity of purpose. We must take advantage of the stewardship of the ATU to ensure that our voice is consistently heard at the global arena. I must add here that ATU has done very well in this respect and in many other fronts in the last 10 years under the stewardship of Mr. Abdulkarim Soumaila.
- It is my sincere hope that this meeting will craft proposals that will make the continent benefit from the deliberations at the 2018 ITU Plenipotentiary Conference. Africa is counting on you for the best outcomes.
- To build on the good work and foundation laid by the current leadership, Kenya has offered itself to serve the African region in the capacity of Secretary General of the ATU. Our candidate, Mr. John Omo, is a distinguished lawyer with vast experience in the ICT sector. Omo has been at the centre of Kenya’s communications development since liberalisation about 18 years ago. He has been a consistent delegate and representative of Kenya and Africa in many international ICT fora.
- At the ITU level, Kenya will be seeking a fresh mandate at the ITU Council. I wish to request your positive consideration of these candidacies when the right time comes.
- With those few remarks Ladies and Gentlemen, I once again thank the Communications Authority of Kenya, ATU and the ITU for organizing this forum.
- It is now my humble duty and pleasure to declare the 4th African Preparatory Meeting for the 2018 ITU Plenipotentiary Conference officially opened.
Thank you for your kind attention.