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Minister Ramsden Opens SADC ICT Ministers' Meeting
16/06/11
Minister Ramsden Opens SADC ICT Ministers' Meeting .....  In line with the SADC Regional Infrastructure Development Master Plan, the Government of Botswana has committed to invest in international connectivity through EASSy and WACS.   
Minister Ramsden Opens SADC ICT Ministers' Meeting

Republic of Botswana

 

 

 

SPEECH BY THE

 

 

 

MINISTER OF TRANSPORT AND COMMUNICATIONS

HONOURABLE FRANK J. RAMSDEN, M.P.

 

 

AT A MEETING OF SADC MINISTERS FOR ICT AND POSTAL SERVICES

 

 

GABORONE INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION CENTRE

 

 

 

16 June 2011

Director of Ceremonies:

Your Excellencies, High Commissioners and Ambassadors

Chairperson of the SADC Committee of Ministers, Hon Joel Kapaanda, Minister of Information and Communication Technology in Namibia

Honourable SADC Ministers Responsible for ICT, Communications and Postal Services

SADC Executive Secretary, Dr Tomaz Salomao and the Secretariat

Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Transport and Communications for Botswana, Mr. Mabua Mabua;

Senior Officials from the Government of Botswana;

Senior Officials from the SADC Member States;

Representatives of International and Regional Bodies

Colleagues from the Media;

Distinguished Delegates;

Ladies and Gentlemen

 

I feel honoured to address this august gathering of SADC Ministers responsible for ICT, Communications and Postal Services.   On behalf of the Botswana Government, I would like to welcome you to our country whose people are indeed humbled by your presence in the City of Gaborone. I wish you a very pleasant and fruitful stay in our country.   

 

The Government of Botswana remains committed to the collective implementation of the SADC Programme of Action on ICTs and the development of Postal Services.

 

 

Honourable Ministers, Distinguished Delegates; There is broad consensus on the impact of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) on society in general. The correlation between ICTs and development has been extensively studied.  It is therefore widely acknowledged that a positive association exists between both variables.  As a result investment in ICTs is considered as an important dimension in development.  


The relationship between ICTs and development took an important dimension following the adoption of the United Nations ‘Millennium Development Goals’ (MDGs) and the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS).

Various initiatives have been undertaken in Africa.  They include the African Information Society Initiative (AISI), the NEPAD ICT framework and the African Regional Action Plan on the Knowledge Economy (ARAPKE).   SADC has adopted the Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) which has singled out ICT as an enabling tool for socio-economic development and regional integration.

 

Your Excellencies, Honourable Ministers:  We note with pride, the strides that the region has made in terms of implementation of ICT programmes and projects. There is however, no doubt that we could do even more.

Key amongst our achievements has been the strengthening of our regulatory framework by the Communications Regulatory Authority of Southern Africa.  The proliferation of private operators in the SADC Region bears testimony to the successful creation of an enabling environment through institutionalization of harmonized regulatory reforms. 

 

This was spearheaded by the “Regional Telecommunications Restructuring Programme (RTRP)”, under the auspices of the former Southern Africa Transport and Communications Commission (SATCC), which was based in Maputo, Mozambique.

 

As a region, we are now able to craft our own harmonized regulations and standards, in conformity with ITU standards.  We have to thank our experts and officials for their commitment to the project.

 

With regards to ICT infrastructure development, we committed ourselves to interconnect our countries through optical fibre links, to ensure that intra-SADC traffic can be navigated as cost effectively as possible with minimum impediments.

 

The review of our Ministerial Agenda suggests that we have indeed made tremendous progress in this respect, since our ICT infrastructure is more than 90% complete. 

We have to thank all SADC Member States for their concerted efforts towards the successful completion of this project.

 

The Postal Sector has also experienced phenomenal changes.  Good progress has been made with regards to improvement in the quality of service, which is a marvel for many other sub-regions. This again is a product of protracted reforms in the sector, more so given the challenges of competition other private service providers have provided.

 

Distinguished Delegates; Allow me to share with you, some developments that Botswana continues to make in the ICT and postal sectors.

These include subsidies on the Public Telecommunications Operators (PTOs) to facilitate the provision of voice, data and Internet services in rural areas under a rural telecommunications infrastructure project that we named NTELETSA. Through this project the Government intends to facilitate the development of telecommunications infrastructure and provision of telecommunications services to a total of 197 rural communities. To date a total of 165 villages have been connected.  

 

In line with the SADC Regional Infrastructure Development Master Plan, the Government of Botswana has committed to invest in international connectivity through EASSy and WACS. 

We are grateful to our neighbouring states of the Republic of Namibia and the Republic of South Africa through whose territories cables have to traverse to reach our frontiers

 

BotswanaPost recently opened a state of the art International Mail Processing Centre with a capacity to sort 36000 letters per hour at high speed, accuracy and greater efficiency.  The Centre will serve as a national and international mail hub. The Government’s partnership with BotswanaPost in setting Internet kiosks in post offices in a bid to extend access points for ICTs is paying dividends to to enhance universal and equitable access by urban and rural communities.

Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen;  Let me underscore the importance of our cooperation in the areas of ICT policy harmonization, development and adoption of standards as well as regional infrastructure development which has brought us this far.

 

We have acknowledged the strategic importance of collective implementation of our development agenda within the SADC framework, as opposed to individuality by Member States. We have to bear in mind that doing things on your own you can go a long way, but doing so collectively, you can go even further.

 

My Esteemed Colleagues, you will recall that one of the key issues that has been on the table entails the SADC position with regards to Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) Migration on which SADC took a milestone decision in Lusaka.

 

I am confident that the consensus reached in Lusaka will continue to inform the national initiatives on the DTT Road Map, and more importantly, we need to ensure that we do not miss deadlines agreed within the framework of the ITU. Besides, we need to devise a strategy to mitigate the socio-economic impact of the transition, as it relates to access and cost of St Top Boxes, which some of our people may not be able to afford, and run the risk of being cut out.

We also need to ensure that we undertake thorough consultations in preparation for elections at international bodies like the International Telecommunications Union and the Universal Postal Union.

 

It is critical that we agree on a single SADC candidate for each position, in order not to weaken our voting power with split votes.

 

Those that were in Mexico may recall that SADC lost out to other regions which were more organized than us.

 

It is also my hope, that as SADC we shall have full consensus around the 21st World Radio Conference (WRC 21) issues ahead of the ATU meeting later this year. We should also acknowledge the lead role being played by South Africa on this matter.

 

Honourable Ministers, Our meeting today offers an opportunity to take stock of our achievements since Luanda in 2010, and trust that there shall be concrete deliverables reflected in our score card. Let us continue to support our facilitating Institutions to ensure speedy progress on Action Plans, especially those that have been accorded priority.

 

Once again, I welcome you to Botswana, and whatever we can do to make your stay more comfortable; please do not hesitate to contact me.  My Officers are around to ensure that your stay in Botswana remains memorable. I wish you fruitful deliberations, under the guidance of our Chair, Republic of Namibia.

 

KE A LEBOGA.  THANK YOU.  MERCI.  MUINTU OBRIGADO.   PULA!

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