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15.12.2005 General News

Ghana leads Commonwealth Coordination ITU

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Accra, Dec. 15, GNA - Mr Albert Kan-Dapaah, Ghana's Minister of Communications was unanimously chosen to present Commonwealth positions during the Plenipotentiary Conference of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) to be held in Antalya, Turkey, next year. This was the outcome of the meeting of the Commonwealth ITU Group convened by the UK Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Office of Communications (OFCOM) in London from December 20 - 22, this year. The Plenipotentiary Conference is the top policy-making body of the ITU and it is held every four years to set the Union's general policies, adopt five-year strategic and financial plans and elect the senior management team of the Union.

It is the key event at which ITU Member States decide on the future role of the organization, thereby determining the organization's ability to influence and affect the development of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) worldwide.

According to an official statement in Accra on Sunday, the London meeting reviewed draft proposals from the four ITU regional groupings that Commonwealth countries participate in; the European, the Americas and the Caribbean, the Asian-Pacific and the African Regions. Opening the Conference, Mr Alun Michael, Chairman of the Conference, UK Minister of State for Industry and the Regions called for the need to ensure digital inclusion for all peoples of the world. He observed that the considerations of digital inclusion were a high priority worldwide and the primary focus should be on accelerating accessibility to technology.

The Minister said the UK, by December, had reached over 99 per cent coverage of broadband and was trying to convert the actual usage by all so as to bring ICTs to the people and make them relevant to the people's needs.

Mr Kan-Dapaah drew attention to the need to develop modern communications infrastructure to meet the demands of ICT and called on the ITU to support home-grown initiatives such as what was provided in the Partnership Framework for Infrastructure Development for ICT in Africa.

He also called for the recognition of the African Regional Action Plan on the Knowledge Economy (ARAPKE) that was adopted by the African Union as a framework encompassing the Action Lines of the World Summit on the Information Society. Mr Kan-Dapaah noted that the challenge for Africa was how fast resource mobilisation could be harnessed to bring the programmes to fruition.

The meeting identified Commonwealth Common Objectives ranging from ITU's reform to address the challenges of World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), the Commonwealth Action Programme for the Digital Divide (CAPDD), the election system of the Union, implementation of resolutions and also, the issue of the International Telecommunications Regulations (ITRs).

Ghana's election to spearhead Commonwealth contribution to the ITU was in appreciation of the highly successful role it played during the negotiations of the WSIS when the Minister co-ordinated Africa's position to help secure vital consensus on the thorny issues of the WSIS.

The Minister also used the occasion to launch Ghana's bid for re-election to the ITU Council for the period 2006-2010. Ghana was elected to Council at the Plenipotentiary Conference of 2002 for the first time since joining the ITU after independence. 25 Dec. 05