Dear Mr. Chairman,
Dear Secretary General of the ITU,
Dear Colleagues,

The Republic of Bulgaria is proud to have 138 years of traditional relations with the International Telecommunication Union, dating back to 1880.

Therefore, we would like once again to acknowledge the positive influence of the ITU, together with other factors, over the telecommunications/ICTs developments in Bulgaria. ITU has always been an ardent promoter for the global development of telecommunications/ICTs. This is very well demonstrated by the strategic documents of the ITU, of which the operative one is the Connect 2020 Agenda of the ITU.

We would like to share with you the Bulgarian experience in relation to Goal 1 and Goal 2 of Connect 2020 Agenda.

Concerning Goal 1: Connectivity and the availability of digital services, Bulgaria has been making a steady progress: in 2017 the Bulgarian Government adopted the Governance Programme 2017–2021, setting out the priorities and measures related to digital public administration for this period. Some of the activities under the Programme have already been implemented, resulting in improved digital public services and increased number of e-government users. In particular, digital public services for businesses show a significant improvement compared to the recent years, scoring 89 out of a 100. With regards to Internet access, now 67.3 % of the households in Bulgaria are connected. Bulgaria continues to perform well also in the area of open data: there are currently over 7,000 data sets from different national and regional administrations and agencies.

With regards to Goal 2: Bridging the digital divide and provision of broadband for all, Bulgaria has made remarkable progress on ultra-fast broadband coverage, reaching 74.6%, while the EU average is 58%. However, while Bulgaria holds one of the top positions in Europe in terms of Internet speed achieved in major cities, Internet services at high speeds are less available in Bulgaria’s rural and remote or scarcely-populated areas. That is why the Bulgarian Government fully embraced the WiFi4EU initiative, which is aimed to provide free high-quality internet access to the most visited public places: parks, gardens, libraries, public buildings, and more. The activities under the initiative are funded under the Connecting Europe Facility. The benefits of the initiative will be used by more than 150 small municipalities and telecom operators.

The main Programming Document in the area of digital development in Bulgaria is Digital Bulgaria 2025. It sets out the objectives, measures and activities related to the development and widespread use of ICT as well as the commitment of the different institutions within their sectoral policies. This document is actually our response to the ITU Strategic goals 2020-2023 and beyond. It contains six key priority areas for action to achieve smart, sustainable and inclusive digital growth in the period 2017-2025, which are related to further development and improvement: digital networks and services; digital economy and growth potential; digital competence and skills; public e-services; cybersecurity and Internet governance. In order to achieve these goals, EU funds as well as private and public investments are being secured.

Dear Mr. Chairman,
Dear participants,

By placing its candidature for a member of the ITU Council for Region “C”, the Government of the Republic of Bulgaria has shown once again a high appreciation and support to the noble ITU mission and activities. Re-election of the Republic of Bulgaria would be regarded by the Bulgarian telecomm and ICT community as both an honour and a high responsibility. With its active involvement in the ITU activities, the Republic of Bulgaria has demonstrated ability and will to share experience to overcome the challenges in order to achieve the targets of the ITU Connect 2020 Agenda and the Strategic Goals for 2023. We are confident that by working together we can achieve these goals.

The last but not least, we would like to thank our host – the Government of the United Arab Emirates – for the excellent facilities provided and the kind welcome extended to the delegates to this Conference.