The Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) Prof. Umar Danbatta yesterday urged African countries participating in the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) Plenipotentiary Conference in Dubai later this year to present common proposals that would deepen investment in the telecom sector and reduce digital divide in the continent.
He said this has become imperative considering the over-riding benefits especially as African countries would move from being a major consumser of technological products from other continents to a producer.
The NCC chief made the remarks at the opening ceremony of the second African Preparatory Meeting for the Plenipotentiary Conference at Transcorp Hotel, Abuja.
He said: “Nigeria sees the work of ITU as integral to the development of ICT in Africa and in tune with its focus of achieving ubiquitous Broadband deployment that will in turn lead to sustainable socio-economic development of its citizenry.
“This we believe can only be achieved through continued and deepened partnerships of which the ITU provides the most ideal platform.
“The importance of this gathering cannot be understated when considering the ITU Framework and Plenipotentiary process. This meeting will provide the necessary impetus for Africa to articulate various proposals and agree a common position.”
“I will like to use this opportunity to thank the Government of Zimbabwe for hosting the first African Preparatory Meeting last year. This meeting sets the tone for our gathering here and I am confident that the deliberations that will take place in the next three days will further enhance Africa’s common position at PP-18.
“It pleases me to note that Nigeria, beyond being your host, will be a very active participant at this meeting as we have submitted a number of proposals for your consideration.
“The challenges posed by the development of new technologies cannot be over emphasised but we are all in agreement that the benefits far outstrip whatever risks we may face.
“Nigeria has witnessed phenomenal growth in its ICT sector and acknowledges the support of the ITU in the country’s ICT evolution. Nigeria has been a long standing member of the ITU council and has always seen itself as a flag bearer for the interest of Africa and other developing Nations as a whole. To this end, and with your support we wish to continue the good work we have been doing over the past decades.
“The presence of the ITU Secretary-General signifies the importance accorded to Africa within the ITU. We have traditionally always come together as one and this is where our power to influence the focus, initiatives and strategies of the ITU lies. I trust this meeting will be no different.
“Drawing from Africa’s participation at the World Telecommunications Development Conference held last year in Buenos Aires, Argentina and the outcomes of that conference, I urge us to harness our expertise and experiences and indeed to overcome our differences to put together and synthesise well-articulated and impactful common proposals that will ensure Africa’s participation at PP-18 produces the necessary strategies to ensure the digital divide in the continent is significantly reduced with Africa not just being a major consumer of technology but a producer as well.”