Minister of Communications: Closing Remarks Speech

The Minister of Communications closing remarks speech of the ICT INDABA 2012

June 7, 2012

Thank you Programme Director, Honourable Minister Beatrice K. Wani-Noah,

Honourable Ministers from our partner countries,

Honourable Deputy Secretary-General of the ITU, Mr Houlin Zhao,

Honourable Deputy Minister of Communications, Ms Stella Tembisa Ndabeni,

Honourable Deputy Ministers,

Honourable Members of Parliament,

Chairperson and Members of the Portfolio Committee on Communications,

Chairperson and Members of the Select Committee,

Your Excellencies, Ambassadors and High Commissioners.

Leaders of the ICT sector,

Government officials, both local and international

 

Ladies and gentlemen.

The past four days have been very humbling as the ministers, officials and delegates put in long hours of work to ensure that this conference craft a framework that will position Africa on a trajectory to sustainable development through technology.

This commitment reminded us of an Indian proverb that says;

“I had no shoes and complained, until I met a man who had no feet.”

Honourable Ministers and Distinguished Guests,

Indeed, we didn’t hear anyone complain as we all pulled together, even summoning our last energy resources to ensure that this gathering is the success it has been.

The result of that selfless dedication has been the creation of a solid foundation for a truly connected future for Africa.

In this connected future, all of Africa’s major cities, town and villages will be connected to affordable internet, thereby facilitating the continent’s mass entry into the knowledge and information economy.

We have set a medium-term target of delivering broadband to 80% of African citizens by 2020.

At the Inter Ministerial meetings we held, we took clear resolutions and mechanism to engage the rest of the continent on this journey towards sustainable growth and prosperity, especially for the poor and SMEs.

We set the target to support the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) in their plans to support the updating of the International Telecommunications Regulations which should help developing countries to benefit from the frameworks for interconnections and roaming in the telecommunications market.

African experts should also increase participation in the ITU study groups which focuses on these issues to influence their outcomes.

We are setting a team that will monitor the progress in the implementation of our resolutions and give feedback at regular intervals. This feedback will be shared with all African countries.

We shall work with the existing continental and regional organisations to get the cooperation of the rest of the countries that were not present at this Indaba.

It is undeniable and it is very clear that delivering broadband to every citizen on the continent will accelerate the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals.

Our work will also assist us in identifying and closing the skills gap within our countries.

Part of this process is contained in the plans to encourage the development of an electronic manufacturing, through the local manufacturing of the Set Top Boxes for digital migration.

The greatest achievement of this approach would be to help Africa create it’s own technologies, instead of the continent just being a consumer.

Honourable Ministers and Distinguished Guests,

We are also mindful of the policy implications of some of our commitments and we shall work to realise that by SA and the continent.

As we seek a more prosperous future, we can’t impoverish our environment.

The lesson learnt from presentations such as the one on smart cities will help us to develop in a manner that doesn’t compromise the environment.

We are grateful to all our private sector partners who saw it fit to support us in this noble venture.

As we express our gratitude to them, we also want to remind them that our role is to regulate the sector and we shall never abdicate that responsibility to anyone.

Countries and companies need to continue to respect each other’s space but commit to collaborate in a fair manner.

Poet and liberation struggle icon Maya Angelou says this about confronting challenges head on;

“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude. Don’t complain.”

We received this reminder from the youth that we have interacted with at this event. As a result, we are working on ways to increase their role in future events, as this Indaba is an annual event.

This will help us close the gap between policy makers and the entrepreneurs who are crucial in the creation of jobs. We have to allow businesses, both large and SMEs, space to innovate because this is one way of creating sustainable jobs, some of which we don’t even know could ever exist.

An example is the explosion of the mobile software application development industry. Three years ago the industry was barely existent and nobody was talking about it. Now it employ millions of people and is making the lives of many easier.

Honourable Ministers and Distinguished Guests,

Once again, we would like to extend our gratitude to all of you for your selfless sharing of information and hard in ensuring that this event is the success that it is.

A special mention has to go to our government for agreeing to host this conference and for making the Deputy President available to come here and open this conference.

Another special to goes to the Minister of Brazil who played an important role in the drafting of this declaration.

He has offered his government’s support to implement these resolutions.

Our sponsors such as MTN, Vodacom, Telkom and others, went out of their way to make this event a reality. The SABC has demonstrated what an important role a public broadcaster can play by taking this event to the rest of the country.

To the exhibitors, thank you for putting such a show for our visitors. I watched and observed your interactions with the visitors with keen interest.

We wish you well in your travel and we look forward to welcoming you again next year.

Thank you all.