Your Excellencies, 
Ministers of ITU Member States,
Secretary General of ITU, Mr. Houlin Zhao, 
Elected Officials of ITU,  
Distinguished delegates, 

Ladies and Gentlemen, 

Please allow me, Honourable Chair, to first congratulate you and your bureau members on your successful elections at this 20th session of the ITU Plenipotentiary Conference. My delegation has full confidence in your leadership and wish you every success.

Honourable Chair;

Let me begin by thanking the ITU for its continuous support to the developments of ICT/telecommunications sector in Vanuatu.

Vanuatu has positively progressed over the last 4 years and thereby well on its to achieving the goals of the Connect 2020 agenda. It has always been our firm conviction that ICT as an enabler will provide a common platform to bring everyone together.

Honourable Chair,

Mobile broadband coverage has increased to over 98% of Vanuatu’s total population. Vanautu has experienced a growth of 24% in mobile subscriptions since the last quarter of 2016 with services becoming increasingly affordable as reflected in the 20% market revenue increase as reported in the last quarter of 2017. Satellite broadband network has geographically covered 100% of all Islands of Vanuatu. The rollout of Fibre-To-Home (FTH) and Fibre-To-Business (FTB) together with the local presence of caching servers of some big CDNs at the Vanuatu Internet Exchange Point, combined with the leapfrog from 2G to 3G and 4G+ has seen major improvements to internet speed in Vanuatu. These achievements could have not been delivered without the multi-stakeholder collaboration - an approach promoted in the National ICT Policy.

These achievements did come with major and difficult challenges attributed to the archipelagic nature of the country with islands separated by water. The Vanuatu Government acknowledges these challenges and therefore, has taken stringent measures to address them through development of innovative policies – for example Infrastructure Sharing Policy which is currently being developed. This policy strategy will enable collaboration between the Government and stakeholders through the office of the Telecommunication, Radiocommunication and Broadcasting Regulator on improving quality of service, user experience and addressing areas identified as the black spot areas.

Honourable Chair;

Vanuatu is located on the earthquake-prone “ring of fire”, that sits at the center of the Pacific cyclone belt, and known to be the world’s most at-risk country for natural hazards. Vanuatu acknowledges assistance from ITU in the work currently being undertaken to establish a clear and operational National Emergency Telecommunication Plan for Vanuatu. We also acknowledge assistance and support from other regional partners like the Asia Pacific Telecommunity (APT) who have been working closely with Vanuatu on innovative solutions for our early warning systems for volcano as well as post disaster recovery support solutions known as the Movable, Deployable ICT Resource Unit (MDRU).

With the support of the Australian Government through the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT)’s Cyber Affairs Program and the Asia Pacific Network Information Center (APNIC), Vanuatu has established its Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT VU). The rate at which the Pacific is being connected by the fibre optic submarine cable is amazing. However, our geographical locations of islands, Provincial Centres and communities will always remain  inherent challenges. At the same time, the Government and its stakeholders are committed to capacity building for Ni-Vanuatu. The Vanuatu Government is also considering backup infrastructure gateway especially the submarine cable.

Honourable Chair,

Whilst we are seeing all the progress and achievements in ICT developments, we also acknowledge the potentials for technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things, Smart Cities, Block Chain and 5G. Artificial Intelligence has potentials to contribute in some specific sector service such as in health whereby delivery of medical supplies to remotest parts of the country remains a challenge. The potentials for Block Chain technology are being considered subject to the enactment of appropriate legislation.

In 2017, ITU conducted the ICT Regulatory Tracker, which placed Vanuatu in Group 3, “a regulatory environment that enables investment, innovation and access, dual focus on stimulating competition in service and content delivery, and consumer protection”. Vanuatu Government foresees the potentials of digital transformation and digital society for Vanuatu and work has begun on establishing a National Digital Governance Roadmap which will enable Vanuatu to establish clear and robust policies including legislative and regulatory frameworks to boost ICT development in Vanuatu.

Honourable Chair,

Over-The-Top services are beneficial to our islands nations however there are also challenging issues. We believe that through our collaborative engagements, we can find solutions that will be beneficial to all.

May I conclude by thanking all our partners. I would also like to express our deep appreciation to the ITU for always being at the forefront in assisting member states.

To our generous hosts, we thank the Government of the United Arab Emirates for the wonderful hospitality in this great city.

I thank you, Honourable Chair.