Communications Minister delivers Ghana's Policy Statement at the ITU Plenipotentiary Conference 2018

 
On behalf of the Government and people of the Republic of Ghana, I also extend our appreciation to the Government of the United Arab Emirates for hosting the 2018 ITU Plenipotentiary Conference.  We thank you for the warm welcome and the kind hospitality accorded to me and my delegation since our arrival in this smart Dubai city.
 
Mr. Chairman, we express our heartfelt congratulations to you and trust in your capabilities to steer this conference to provide future direction and indeed, guidance to all the sectors of the ITU for the 2019 to 2022 period.
Mr. Chairman, we extend through you our condolences to the Government and people of Indonesia for the unfortunate air disaster.
 
Mr. Chairman, Secretary General, Distinguished Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen, Ghana is fully committed to the common vision of “an information society, empowered by the interconnected world, where telecommunication/ICTs enable and accelerate social, economic and environmentally sustainable growth and development for everyone”.
 
The Government of Ghana under the able leadership of His Excellency President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, Co-Chair of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals Advocacy Group, is pursuing the Digital Ghana Agenda for a massive transformation of Ghana’s economy through technology and broadband development. It is ‘Digi-Time’ in Ghana. Our President is a firm advocate for the utilization of technology for the realization of all the SDGs and we are actively working towards that. Ghana is focusing on improving the efficiency of service delivery with particular attention to rural and underserved communities, women and gender parity and opportunities for the youth through the nurturing of new businesses, creation of job opportunities, facilitation of ICT-based entrepreneurship and securing our cyber space for the realization of the SDGs.
 
Mr. Chairman, with widespread broadband infrastructure in the country and international bandwidth provided by five submarine optic fibre cables, Ghana with a population of over 29 million people has recorded mobile voice penetration of 137.38% and data penetration of 75.54%. Ghana’s telecommunication sector has over 20 Internet Service Providers with an average download speed of 4.78 Mbps and is still growing stronger due to the enabling environment created for the private sector to thrive.
 
Recognizing the importance of digital equity, the Government of Ghana is taking further steps to bridge the digital divide by introducing initiatives aimed at supporting and empowering the citizenry to embrace the use of ICT. We have commenced the issuance of a biometric national identification cards to citizens and residents to facilitate the development of a common data based to enhance public service delivery by various sectors of the economy.
 
We have also started the National Digital Addressing system to support geolocation and the issuance of postal codes. Ghana has established a mobile money interoperability platform to aid financial inclusion of the unbanked of the Ghanaian society.  This is promoting a cashless society and alternative channels for access to digital financial services riding on the back of the Mobile telephony infrastructure of the country. 
 
We have also provided assistive technology enabled devices to our vision impaired undergraduates to facilitate their computer literacy and education. We aim to extend that facility to all our schools for the blind. We will leave no one behind in our quest to narrow the digital divide and are using our universal access fund in partnership with the private sector to extend connectivity to the rural, unserved and underserved communities. This year alone, we have constructed 400 rural telephony sites with 80 repeater stations and connected almost a million people.
 
In pursuance of this digital equity, Ghana has implemented a paperless port that has reduced the time spent in transacting business at the port from 14 days to 6 hours. In addition, we are in the process of migrating from analogue to digital broadcasting and benefitting from the digital dividend through the sale of one bloc in the 800 MHz band being used for 4G services. Through the assistance of the ITU, we have operationalized the conformance and interoperability laboratories for type approval in Ghana and have extended an invitation to the ITU to utilize these 4 laboratories as centers of excellence in training and capacity building for the sub region. 
 
Ghana is making every effort to provide a safe environment for digital participation through the establishment of Computer Incident Response Teams both at the national and sectoral levels, including CERTs for the financial and telecommunications sectors and established a National Cyber Security Centre. We have reviewed our annual Cyber Security celebration initiatives this year by extending the weeklong celebration to one month in order to create awareness across all regions of the country. The promotion of safe cyber hygienic practices through awareness creation and public education will be sustained and we are laying a special emphasis on Child Online Protection as well.
 
Beyond these national activities, Ghana actively participates in international collaborations and welcomes deepened resolutions on international cooperation towards building confidence and trust in the use of ICTs globally.
 
Mr. Chairman, Secretary General, Distinguished Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen, Ghana, an active member of the ITU and the Council, is fully committed to the decisions of the 2018 Session of Council. Ghana has aligned its developmental goals within the ICT sector to the five key goals of the ITU strategic plan proposed for 2020 to 2023. We are of the firm belief that, by the end of the period, Ghana would be sharing interesting developments and achievements to the ITU membership.
 
Mr. Chairman, we come in solidarity with the membership of the ITU and are committed to addressing the needs of our people. Ghana agrees with the suggested contributory units to support the strategic plan and looks forward to increased partnerships as well as investment towards bridging the digital divide. We will continue to support the consensus building approach that has always characterized the ITU Plenipotentiary conference to ensure that this conference achieves the optimum guidance for the next four years and beyond.
 
You can count on Ghana’s support, Mr. Chairman and we hope to continue serving on the Council with your assistance.
 
I wish this ITU Plenipotentiary conference all-embracing success.
 
Thank you.