Your Excellency Chairperson of the Conference,
Your Excellencies, Ministers and Heads of Delegations
Secretary General of the ITU and elected officials,
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen

On behalf of South Africa Delegation, I wish to congratulate the Government and people of the United Arab Emirates for the excellent hosting of this ITU Plenipotentiary Conference.  In particular, I would like to thank you for the warm hospitality we have received since our arrival.  Further, we pledge to work with all of you towards achieving a successful outcome to this conference.

At the core of ITU’s mission is to connect the world. Mr Chairperson, 53% of the world’s population remains unconnected - that is 3.9 billion people. 3.1 billion of those unconnected are located in Africa and Asia-Pacific Regions. We believe we can achieve our mission of connecting every citizen if we build partnerships and their confidence in use of the internet.

Last year South Africa adopted the Internet for All Initiative in partnership with 60 domestic and international stakeholders with a goal to connect the 22 million unconnected citizens to the internet by 2020. The project rest on four pillars of innovative deployment of affordable broadband infrastructure in unserved areas, affordable access to internet services and devices, massifying skill training and awareness, and stimulating demand through development of relevant local content and applications. This project has also assisted us to reduce the gender digital divide to less than 2 percentage point.

South Africa remains an active member of the global ICT family, having been a member of the ITU since 1910, left because of the tragedy of apartheid and re-joining the ITU in 1994 following the advent of democracy in our country.  In Africa, we serve in various structures with the vision to connect Africa and achieve the African Union Agenda 2063.

South Africa supports various ITU initiatives;

  • Since 2015, we have been serving as an active member of the UN Broadband Council for Sustainable development under the leadership of ITU and UNESCO Secretary Generals.
  • We have been actively participating in various ITU committees ang regional meetings.
  • Last month we hosted a successful ITU Telecoms World Conference in Durban, South Africa.
  • As a legacy of this conference and with the support of ITU and other international organisations we launched and offered to host the African Digital Transformation Centre in our capital city of Pretoria. This Centre’s objective is to incubate enterprise talent, harness innovation and prepare our continent to take full advantage of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. It will assist African SMMEs with conformance testing, standardisation and protection of their intellectual property. It will contribute to the development and utilisation African-produced ICT solutions designed to meet local needs.

Excellencies and distinguished Heads of Delegation,

It is under this backdrop I wish to re-iterate my Government’s request to you all to support South Africa’s candidature for election to the ITU Council representing Region D.  We also appeal for support of our candidate, Mr Mandla Mchunu for the Radio Regulations Board. Once elected, we will collectively work with other members to advance development of ICTs, promote gender mainstreaming, facilitate equitable representation, and to strengthen a rules-based international system.  I respectfully request the valuable support of your governments for our candidacy.

In conclusion, I would like to commend and thank the Secretary-General of ITU, Mr Zhao and the ITU team for the excellent leadership, valued contribution and support provided to my country, to the region Africa, and to developing countries and all Member states and sector members, in building a globally-connected digital economy and knowledge society.

I thank you