Statement by H.E. Ms. Stella Tembisa Ndabeni-Abrahams,
Deputy Minister for the Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services, South Africa
Secretary General of the ITU
Ladies and Gentlemen
Allow me on behalf of the South African delegation to thank the Government and the people of Argentina for the warm welcome and generous hospitality we have received and continue to enjoy in this wonderful city of Buenos Aires.
Chairperson, let me also take the opportunity to offer my delegation’s congratulations to you on your election as Chairperson of the Conference. We are indeed confident that we are in good hands.
My delegation would also like to express our heartfelt gratitude and appreciation for the efforts made by ITU Secretary-General Mr Houlin Zhao; Mr Brahima Sanou, Director of the ITU Telecommunication Development Bureau (BDT); ITU Management and staff in successfully convening this Conference, timeously in advance of the ITU Plenipotentiary Conference.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The theme of this WTDC: “ICT for Sustainable Development Goals” is very much aligned to our National Development Plan 2030 as well as the African Union (AU) Agenda 2063, of building of an information society and knowledge-based economy to drive inclusive growth for all nations.
ICTs and broadband in particular, have the potential to transform sectors and accelerate progress, bringing us closer to achieving the SDGs. I am certain that over the two weeks, we will identifies strategies and programmes to achieve SDGs but also promote digital inclusion, accessibility, gender, and capacity building so that nations become more equal.
For us as the African region, we call on the ITU and all international partners, to put more resources and capacity on development of strategies and programmes to ensure equitable access to the internet, innovation and development, as well as to strengthening ICT security.
The Internet has the potential to positively impact and transform people’s lives and bring benefits in a great number of areas, including health, education, financial services, transport, energy, agriculture, and more. However, to-date 53% of the world’s population remains offline, with the majority located in Africa and Asia-Pacific.
In South Africa, 48% of our citizens (estimated 22 million) are not yet connected to the Internet. Through our national government priorities such as the 9-Point Plan, Broadband National Policy (named the South African Connect) and the ICT Policy, we are implementing strategies to ensure maximum socioeconomic inclusion, focused on digital skills, as well as supporting Small Medium Enterprises, Youth and Women on digital entrepreneurship in order to minimize the digital divide and ensure radical economic transformation through wider active participation in the digital economy. In May this year, we also adopted the Internet for All initiative which seeks to address barriers to universal internet access through partnerships, coordination and collaboration between public, private, multilateral and non-profit organisations.
South Africa views ICTs, especially the Internet as important, and integral to reducing socio-economic inequalities. Therefore, WTDC-17 is expected to provide the world with a new paradigm and alternative vision for increased infrastructure connectivity, diffusion of devices, local content and skills development.
October has been dedicated as the cybersecurity month: the aim is to raise awareness of cyber security threats, promote cyber security among citizens and organizations; and provide resources so that citizens can protect themselves online, through education and sharing of good practices. As South Africa, we are happy to announce that we have national policy and have an established Cybersecurity Hub which provides information and creates awareness on cybersecurity, so to encourage South African citizens and organisations to be secure online.
Distinguished delegates, you will recall that Our world leaders entrusted the ITU to be the Facilitator of WSIS Action Line C5, "Building confidence and security in the use of ICTs”. To ensure maximum effectiveness of this goal, we encourage strengthen international cooperation in this area on the basis of a framework established within the remit of the ITU.
South Africa remains committed to contributing to the work of this Union and in this regard will be presenting her candidature for the ITU Council during the Plenipotentiary Conference in the United Arab Emirates in 2018. We humbly seek your support in this regard.
We look forward to cooperating with the ITU Community in order to make this important conference is a success and its outcomes contribute to social upliftment of our countries, regions and the global community.
Thank you very much for your kind attention.