Plenipotentiary conference: Focus on telecoms

THIS week, we look at Zambia’s participation at the ongoing Plenipotentiary conference in Busan, South Korea where dignitaries from around the globe met to discuss a number of issues relating to telecommunication.
The conference is a three-week (October 20 – November 7), high-level policy meet-ing held every four years with the goal of setting the International Telecommunica-tion Union (ITU) general policies, adopting four-year strategic and financial plans, and electing the ITU senior management team, members of the council, and members of the Radio Regulations Board.
Zambia was for the first time contesting for the ITU council seat and was being represented at the meeting by a delegation led by deputy minister of Transport, Works, Supply and Communications Panji Kaunda.
Present at the official opening were Zambian ambassador to the Republic of Korea Mumba Kapumpa, Zambia Information and Communications Technology Authority (ZICTA) board chairperson Emmanuel Musonda and ZICTA director general Margaret Chalwe-Mudenda.
Other officials include Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) director general Josephine Mapoma and acting director of communications at the Ministry of Transport, Works, Supply and Communications George Mbasela.
During his policy statement at the ordinary session of the conference, Colonel Kaunda emphasised that Zambia has been a partner of the ITU, and has seen ITU transform to take a leading role in promoting the development and use of information communication technologies (ICTs) globally.
Zambia has embraced ICTs as an enabler of socio-economic development capable of enhancing the way services are delivered within Government and other sectors such as health, education, agriculture, manufacturing, and other social services.
Government, working through ZICTA, has also been implementing projects and programmes under the Universal Access and Service Fund to propel the increase of ICT uptake in communities such as the construction of global system for mobile communication (GSM) mobile communications towers in unserved and under-served areas, establishment of community information centres and supporting the e-learning network.
Further, Government has ensured that all government ministries are connected with unified broadband infrastructure for effective implementation of the e-government programme.
Col Panji informed the conference that migration from analogue to digital terrestrial television (DTT) is progressing well and is on course and that in the next cycle, Zambia will accelerate programmes aimed at fostering access and increased use of telecommunications/ICTs through the construction of more than 400 GSM communication towers in targeted rural chiefdoms to ensure 100 percent coverage in unserved areas.
Government will also continue to provide an enabling environment to stimulate the use of ICTs as evidenced by the development of the National Broadband Strategy and enactment of policies that facilitate the sharing of ICT infrastructure by operators and other players.
In order to build confidence and security in the utilisation of ICTs, Zambia has established a Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) with assistance from the Union.
The country will accelerate provision of specialised training for the different stakeholders to ensure that security is enhanced. Zambia has, in collaboration with the ITU, developed the Child Online Protection and the Cyber Security draft strategies respectively.
In fostering an innovative ecosystem and adapting to the changing telecommunication/ICT environment, the government has in the last two years implemented a young innovators programme and has also established an innovators fund. The other programmes that have been introduced is the Girls in ICTs initiative to enhance girls’ participation in the use of ICTs as well as promoting access to ICTs for persons with disabilities.
Zambia is committed to supporting the establishment of ICT incubation programmes in the private sector to promote innovative and progressive start-ups with promising technologies, products and/or services targeting mainstream business sectors on each market.
The minister also reiterated Zambia’s continued commitment to active participation in the work of the union and, therefore, called upon all the members of the ITU to support the developments as the country seeks election as a member of the Council for the first time, and wishes all other candidates the best in the elections.
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