STANDARDISATION OF FUTURE NETWORKS TOWARDS BUILDING A BETTER CONNECTED AFRICA
BEING WELCOME ADDRESS DELIVERED BY THE HONOURABLE MINISTER, FEDERAL MINISTRY OF COMMUNICATIONS AND DIGITAL ECONOMY, DR ISA ALI IBRAHIM (PANTAMI) FNCS, FBCS, FIIM AT THE SEVENTH STUDY GROUP 13 (SG13) REGIONAL WORKSHOP FOR AFRICA FROM 3-4 FEBRUARY 2020 AND ITU-T STUDY GROUP 13 REGIONAL GROUP FOR AFRICA MEETING FROM 5-6 FEBRUARY 2020 AT TRANSCORP HILTON, ABUJA, NIGERIA
Protocols and Greetings.
The Chairman Study Group 13,
Vice Chairmen of Working Parties 1, 2 and 3,
Members of the Study Group,
Gentlemen of the Press,
Ladies and Gentlemen.
May Peace, Mercy and Blessings be upon you all.
It is indeed a great pleasure to welcome you to Nigeria’s beautiful capital city of Abuja and to be invited to deliver this Keynote Address at the Seventh Regional Workshop for Africa on “Standardization of Future Networks towards Building a Better Connected Africa” from 3-4 February 2020. We are also happy to host the ITU-T Study Group 13 Regional Group for Africa meeting, holding back-to-back with the workshop from 5-6 February 2020.
2. I therefore consider this as a good opportunity and an important platform to deliver a Keynote Address to a pool of experts and guests from different African countries at this crucial Workshop and august gathering.
3. As a Member State of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), Nigeria appreciates the excellent work of the ITU through its three sectors namely the Radiocommunication Sector (ITU-R), Standardisation Sector (ITU-T) and Development Sector (ITU-D).
4. The Standardisation Sector (ITU-T) through its study Groups and World Telecommunication Standardisation Assembly (WTSA) uses experts from around the world to prepare, deliberate and develop international standards known as ITU-T Recommendations, which act as defining elements in the global infrastructure of information and communication technologies (ICTs). The professionals here are aware that Standards are critical to the interoperability of ICTs and whether we exchange voice, video or data messages, standards enable global communications by ensuring that countries’ ICT networks and devices are speaking the same language.
5. I am particularly delighted that this workshop is being held in Nigeria at a time our Government through the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy is making every effort to reposition its focus and strategies. The new focus is on how to use new and emerging digital technologies to transform the socio-economic life and activities of the country and for its citizens to embrace a digital economy culture that would impact positively on the lives of the people. It is important that Africa positions itself properly in order to key into the process of developing appropriate standards for future and Next Generation digital Networks that support a digital economy eco-system.
6. As such, we believe that the Workshops have come at a good time, a time when Nigeria is focused on developing its digital economy. His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, unveiled and launched our National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) on the 28th of November, 2019. The document is based of 8 pillars, many of which align with the activities of the 3 sectors of ITU’s operations. The pillars are:
i. Developmental Regulation;
ii. Digital Literacy and Skills;
iii. Solid Infrastructure;
iv. Service Infrastructure;
v. Digital Services Development and Promotion;
vi. Soft Infrastructure;
vii. Digital Society and Emerging Technologies; and
viii. Indigenous Content Promotion and Adoption.
7. Furthermore, a Presidential Committee on the development of a National Broadband Plan has been inaugurated. The Committee is saddled with the task of preparing a 5 year Broadband Plan for Nigeria (2020-2025). They have drawn on the experience of the ITU as shown in many relevant documentations. The Plan is to be completed later this month.
8. As you are aware, standardisation of equipment and networks facilitates seamless connection of systems and networks; without it, it would be difficult for people to communicate effectively from across devices, systems and networks. Without standardization, it would prevent us from having economies of scale and this can slow down the primary objective of the ITU to have interconnected and people and things. Standardisation of devices, equipment, systems and networks therefore play a key and primary role in achieving the objective of a better connected Africa and the world in general.
9. It is obvious that the work of Africa Regional Groups in each of the Study Groups of ITU-T such as Study Group 13, is aimed at bridging the standardisation gap amongst African countries.
10. To have a successful digital economy, we require global standards to drive and support robust network of technologies, digital platforms and a comfortable level of digital literacy. Study Group 13 is well-positioned as a focus group to develop the requisite standards for digital and IP-based Next Generation Networks (NGNs) and platforms for the digital economy initiative of the Federal Government of Nigeria and similar initiatives in other African countries. It is important to emphasize that the evolution of Next Generation Networks has drastically reduced service provider’s CAPEX and OPEX costs and this has in turn enabled rollout of a rich variety of services.
11. It is my sincere hope and wish that this workshop will enable participants build capacity to develop standards for future networks. Such networks would support International Mobile Telecommunications-2020 (IMT 2020), Big data, Network 2030, Internet-of-Things (IoTs), trusted infrastructure, Cloud Computing, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning and other new and emerging technologies to facilitate and enable a connected Africa. This will promote and enable ubiquitous broadband service provision and access to the digital economy.
12. I am also aware that this Workshop is aimed at discussing user experiences and successful stories from diverse African organizations. I therefore urge you to make the best use of the opportunity so that Africa and its people will derive maximum benefit for the overall transformation of the continent.
13. I look forward to receiving a summary of the resolutions and would like to conclude by wishing you a successful deliberation and a safe trip to your respective countries at the end of the Workshop and Meeting.
14. Thank you for your kind attention.