The Minister for Communication and Aviation, Hon. Peter Shanel Agovaka has addressed the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Plenipotentiary Conference in Dubai, United Arab Emirates yesterday (October 30).
The Minister said Solomon Islands have experienced challenges in its telecommunication developments, but at the same time appreciates the benefits and opportunities that the ICT sector has provided in terms of social and economic developments.
He said that despite the challenges and implications of the evolutions of the telecommunication technology, Solomon Islands will continue to pursue and embrace these phenomena in collaboration with the ITU, other member states and stakeholders to ensure this vibrant fast changing sector will continue to harness and maximize ICT connectivity and services for all its citizens in the future.
“I am optimistic that technical support and advice will continue to be provided by ITU. The corporation between ITU and my government are important,” he said. With many issues including geographical isolation, vulnerable to natural disasters, climate change, sea level rise, and cost of rolling out of telecommunication technology to rural areas, Solomon Islands and many Pacific island countries are in the coal front of many of these challenges.
Solomon Islands will have its first undersea optic fiber cable late next year 2019 and on this note, Mr Agovaka thanked the Australian Government for its valuable support in this regard. “While we look forward to having a fast and affordable internet it also amplifies issues that we need to develop polices and legislation on to address these issues like Cyber security and data protection,” he said.Minister Agovaka told the conference that Solomon Islands is now implementing policies and has begun reviewing current legislation with the view of developing legislation to govern the challenges and digital divide that the country is grappling with.
He added that Solomon Islands attends the meeting with the mandate to ensure that those it vote for at the current ITU election will be able provide much needed services to small island state as Solomon Islands.
“Too often the small island states in the Pacific are left out because of our remoteness, our smallness and our distance further away from ITU on the other side of the globe and when it comes to voting Solomon Islands has one vote as the rest of the ITU member states but when it comes to the challenge of telecommunication technology our issues are many,” Mr Agovaka said.
The Minister further called on those that will be elected into ITU positions to manage, administer and implement ITU policies in the next 4 years to keep its outreach program and assistance available and to continue effectively to provide capacity building and institutional strengthening to curb some of the challenges that small island states in the Pacific region faces with regards to ICT and achieving their Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The Plenipotentiary conference is held every four years where the council considers reports of policy and strategic planning of the Union. The conference approves the budget, deliberates on procedures, constitution and conventions of the Union and elects officials and members of the council in the next 4 years.
The Minister for Communication and Aviation, Hon Peter Shanel Agovaka was assisted at the conference by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Communication and Aviation Mr. Moses Virivolomo during the two weeks conference from 29th October -16th November 2018.
Government Communication Unit, OPM