Speech by Houlin Zhao Deputy Secretary-General, International Telecommunication Union at the CRAN gala dinner 31 July 2014
It is a great privilege and pleasure for me to be here with you today in this wonderful city of Windhoek, my first ever visit to this beautiful Country Namibia.
I am indeed excited to be in this great country and its warm people and I am very thankful for a memorable, typically African and colorful reception I have received since my arrival, and for all the facilities put at my disposal.
Ladies and Gentlemen, please allow me to first, thank the Government of Namibia for the invitation extended to me of which I responded to with great enthusiasm as this not only offers me and the entire lTU family an opportunity to strengthen our relationships and partnership but is also shows the level of commitment and the importance this visionary Government places on telecommunications and Information technologies.
I wish also to extend my gratitude to the Chairman, the Board and Management of the Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN) for its role in facilitating my visit. With great pride, I recommend CRAN for the tremendous progress achieved since the Enactment of Namibia's Communication Act in
2009 and its establishment in 2010.
Namibia today has one of the highest mobile penetration rates in Africa at about 120% which is well above the 69% average mobile penetration for the sub-saharan African region and the second highest in the SADC region. I have also learnt that Namibia is one of the few countries within SADC region and Africa at large
with a fully Digital Transition Terrestrial (DTT) Network covering over 60% of the populations and this country is ready and shall meet the deadline for the analogue to digital Switchover in 2015.
I believe these achievements have been made possible because of the commitment from this Government and a sound regulatory environment that it has established.
I also wish to thank The Communication Regulatory Authority of Namibia for accepting to host the first ever lTU Advance Level Training on Cost and Pricing in a quad play business environment to be held Windhoek, Namibia from the 6-10 October this year. We indeed appreciate CRAN continuous cooperation with the lTU.
Ladies and Gentlemen, this morning, I had a great opportunity to meet with the Deputy Prime Minister Honorable Marco HOUSlKV' and the Minister of lCT, Honorable Joel Kaapanda who highlighted some of the key lCT initiatives and programs in line with the Country's Vision 2030. These include among others;
a) Namibia’s ICT in Education initiatives which aims at incorporating ICTs across the entire education sector
b) The E-health Systems project-The Integrated Healthcare Information Management System (IHIMS) designed to store records for all patients and enable instantaneous medical consultations and reviews and the;
c)E-goyernment projects under the Prime Minister's office designed to improve and
expand Government’s intranet to the entire 13 regions of the country, establish a government portal and to equip Namibia's public service and the entire population to access online services.
I note that there are still challenges with regards to broadband infrastructure, content, skills and affordability. Namibia understandably is a vast country and massive amounts of investment and resources are required to spread lCTs and the
above programs to the entire population.
Honorable Minister, I can assure you that the lTU shall continue to explore opportunities and partnerships with the Government of Namibia to expand these initiatives and I look forward to visiting some of these projects during my stay.
Ladies and Gentlemen, this is a special year for lTU, as it includes two important four-yearly global conferences: WTDC and PP, the WSlS+ 10 forum, the Global
Regulators Forum among others. WTDC-14, under the Theme Broadband for Development took place in Dubai earlier in the year and set the broad development Agenda and programs for the lTU to be undertaken in the next 4 years.
The most recent even · has been the WSIS+ 10 High Level Event held from 10-13 June 2014 in Geneva. This event attracted more than 1600 WSIS stakeholders. It provided the perfect opportunity for multi-stakeholder visioning and discussion on the WSIS process, focusing on the important role ICTs continue to play in future's
Development Agenda. (POST 2015 MDG), Cyber security including a review on the progress towards the WSIS Action Plans.
• I would like to encourage the Government of Namibia to continue to actively participate in the WSIS+11J agenda discussion and use this as a platform for engagement and measuring the country progress towards the WSIS Action plan.
• Let me also note the UN Broadband Commission, launched by ITU in 2010 as a top level Broadband Commission for Digital Development. The Broadband Commission has set targets which include; Making broadband policy universal; Making broadband affordable; 40% of households in developing countries should have
I have been informed that broadband penetration is the new focus for this government. Honorable Minister, the ITU shall support you in this effort and through our regional office for Africa, ITU shall facilitate the development of a comprehensive National broadband policy and plan as well as assist your Government to operationalize national Universal access policy and framework.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the next major event on the lTU calendar shall be
lTU Plenipotentiary Conference (PP-14) to be held in Busan, Republic of Korea from 20th October to 7th November 2014. PP-14 will fulfill its mandate by - among other activities – reviewing lTU's Constitution and Convention; establishing ITU's Strategic and Financial Plans; determining general policies for fulfilling the purposes of the
Union; and electing its new management team, Council Members and members of the Radio Regulations Board, the RRB.
Honorable Minister, I look forward to your participation in the Busan, Korea for PP-14 conference .
Before I conclude, I have been informed that with tonight, we have a wide range of stakeholders, partners and friends. I would like to use this opportunity to invite our stakeholders from the Industry, universities academia, and research institutions to subscribe and become Members of the ITU and be part of the exciting global ICT
transformation process. I believe that lTU is one of the few UN Agencies where Membership is open to a range of stakeholders. So please join us and let us work together.
Honorable Minister, Ladies and Gentlemen, I wish to conclude by expressing once again my gratitude and my sincere thanks that this great Gala has been hosted in my honor and I will always cherish this memory and treasure the friendship established between the lTU, the Government of Namibia and its people. I wish the Government, CRAN and all Members present this evening success in all your endeavors .
Thank you for your attention.