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    18 Mar, 2018

    SADC Senior Officials Responsible for Communication and ICTs met for an Extra-Ordinary Meeting

    The Southern African Development Community (SADC) Secretariat convened an Extra-Ordinary Meeting for SADC Senior Officials responsible for Communication and ICT on the 16th March 2018 in Pretoria, South Africa.

    This meeting was preceded by the Meeting of SADC Technical Officials from the 14th to 15th March.

    The Technical Officials received the status report from CRASA on the SADC Roaming Project and the status report from the Rejuvenating and Restructuring SAPOA Committee. Botswana as the Chair of the SADC Process for WRC-19, advised on SADC’s preparations and presented the report of the 3rd SADC Preparatory Meeting.

    Delegates discussed the preparations for the elections at leadership positions at the African Telecommunication Union (ATU) and International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and preparations of South Africa to host the ITU Telecom World 2018 from the 10th to 13th September in Durban.

    The following four (4) Committees were established; SADC Expert Group on PKI and CIRTs, SADC Satellite Expert Committee, SADC TV Bouquet Implementation Committee and the Rejuvenating and Restructuring SAPOA Committee. They reviewed their Terms of Reference (TOR) and reported to the plenary and planned to continue working online on a quarterly basis.

    On 16th March, the Senior Officials’ Meeting discussed the operationalising the SADC Declaration on the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Guiding principles were laid out and a pre-selection of ten (10) projects from the list were identified.

    The keynote address was delivered by Mr. Robert Nkuna, the Director General (DG) of the Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services (DTPS), representing the Government of South Africa and Chairperson of SADC.

    Mr. Nkuna stated that the SADC Strategy to implement the Fourth Industrial Revolution (FIR) is anchored on three (3) pillars namely; Industrialization as a champion of economic and technological transformation; Competitiveness as an active process to move from comparative advantage to competitive advantage; and Regional Integration as the context for industrial development and economic prosperity.

    Speaking on behalf of the SADC Director of Infrastructure, Acting Senior Programme Officer Communications and ICT, Dr. George Ah-Thew, reminded the meeting that another revolution - the FIR is currently happening. He reminded that Ministers in charge of ICT have recognised it and advised that a particular attention be given to secure its ownership. He further indicated that since January 2018, 5G trials have started in South Africa unlike the other innovation that always begins elsewhere in the world which is a big improvement for Africa.

    Taking the floor, Acting DG of the Department of Communications (DoC), Mr. Thabiso Thiti, reminded the process leading to FIR. “we have a lot work to undertake in the next few months in terms of bridging the digital divide before we embark on FIR” he said. ”SADC region must promote innovation from it grassroots to allow our citizens in the rural areas to participate towards economic developing and regional integration of SADC”. He added.

    The Senior Officials’ Meeting also discussed the operationalising of the SADC Declaration on the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Guiding principles were laid out and a pre-selection of ten (10) projects from the list were identified. A Fourth Industrial Revolution Task Team has been setup to finalise this work. The Senior Officials deliberated on all the issues presented by the Technical Officials and made several conclusions and recommendations, including:

     Member States to:

      • provide nominations for the four (4) committes that have commenced work by 30th April;
      • submit the completed SADC Shared Satellite Benchmarking Questionnaire to the SADC Secretariat before the 30th April 2018;
      • submit their candidature for the ITU Council Seats for Africa and to support South Africa’s and Tanzania’s Candidatures for the same;
      • consider submitting a candidate for the position of SG of ATU;
      • participate in ITU Telecom World 2018 and exhibit new local innovative technologies;
    • SAPOA AGM to be convened by the 30th June 2018 in Tanzania. This is when elections of new Board members will take place;
    • Fourth Industrial Revolution Task Team to meet during the upcoming SADC Preparatory Meeting for WRC-19 in May 2018 in South Africa to finalise the selection and profiling of the ICT Projects to support the implementation of the FIR; and

    The Meeting was attended by seventy-five (75) delegates from eleven (11) SADC Member States namely; Botswana, Kingdom of Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Kingdom of Swaziland, United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The meeting was also attended by Heads of SADC ICT Implementing Agencies (the Communications Regulators’ Association of Southern Africa (CRASA), Southern African Telecommunications Association (SATA), Southern Africa Postal Operators’ Association (SAPOA)) and Southern Africa Broadcasting Association (SABA))

    Mrs. Linda Aipinge, Director of ICT, from the MITC of Namibia, the Vice Chairperson of SADC delivered the vote of thanks on behalf of all participants of the meeting. The Extra-Ordinary Meeting of SADC Senior Officials responsible for Communications and ICT was officially closed by Councillor Peter Zimri representing the DG of DTPS of South Africa.

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