ICT Cabinet Secretary Mr.Joe Mucheru addressing delegates during the 4th African Regional Preparatory Meeting for the 2018 ITU Plenipotentiary Conference held in Nairobi. He challenged the continent to speak with one voice at global ICT decision making forums.

ICT Cabinet Secretary Mr. Joe Mucheru has challenged the African continent to speak with one voice at global ICT decision-making forums.

Mr.Mucheru cited lack of a common stand on issues of interest as having hurt the continent in the past, slowing the pace of ICT development.

‘‘The outcomes of our past failings at negotiations speak for themselves. Africa today is ranked at the bottom of virtually all economic indicators relative to other regions of the world,’’ said Mr.Mucheru.

Mr. Mucheru noted that the continent must rise to the challenge and seize the moment to leverage on the global digital revolution fuelled by ICTs to turn around her fortunes.

‘‘If we do not shape up, we clearly stand to lose out in the unfolding fourth industrial revolution, which is driven largely by ICTs,’’ observed Mr.Mucheru.

Speaking during the 4th African Regional Preparatory Meeting for the 2018 International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Plenipotentiary Conference, Mr.Mucheru said that despite the challenges, Africa’s still sill has a huge potential to fully exploit the benefits of ICTs.

‘‘Statistics show that Africa is the world’s second largest mobile market by connections after Asia and the fastest growing mobile market globally,’’ said Mr.Mucheru.

He called on the delegates to focus on policies that allow new technologies to thrive so that Africa can harness the potential that these technologies portend.

CA chairman Mr.Ngene Gituku said efforts to have the continent article issues of common interest have often been hampered by geographical, political, and sometimes religious differences

‘‘This forum, therefore, must help us find compromises on matters of mutual interest for articulation at the ITU Plenipotentiary Conference scheduled to take place later in the year. Africa must speak with a united voice at this important meeting,’’ said Mr. Gituku.

According to the ATU Secretary General Mr.Abdoukarim Soumaila, said the agency will continue to marshal the continent to support member states through a coordinated approach in all activities of the ITU.

CA Director General Mr. Francis Wangusi said a common African approach was possible if countries embraced the principles of growth, inclusiveness, sustainability, innovation and collaboration that have been the bedrock of ICT development in this region.

‘‘I do encourage us to uphold these key principles as our guide in these penultimate discussions and ultimately anchor our proposals that we shall front at the ITU PP-18,’’ said Mr.Wangusi.

The APM gives African countries a platform coordinate issues of regional interest and preparing coordinated regional contributions to the Plenipotentiary Conference, which is the main decision-making body of the ITU from an administrative, budgetary, and operational perspective.

The ITU Plenipotentiary proceedings provide overall strategic and financial guidance to the ITU for four years, and they discuss key Resolutions that have policy and substantive interest and impact for member states and stakeholders.

Kenya is vying for the post of the ATU Secretary General, at elections to be held on 17th August 2018 during the ATU Conference of Plenipotentiaries.

The ATU Conference of Plenipotentiaries and related meetings is being hosted by the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) at the Safari Park hotel in Nairobi and will end on 17th August.

Delegates at the Special Session of the African Telecommunications Union (ATU) Administrative  Council  in Nairobi.The gathering meeting is the first in a series of meetings  discussing pertinent issues on ICTs on the continent

Delegates from across the continent began meeting in Nairobi on Thursday this week in series of meetings to chart the path for unlocking the potential of Information and communications technologies (ICTs) for socio-economic development.

The meeting comes as Kenya sets its eyes for the top seat of the continental ICT body, the African Telecommunications Union (ATU).

The experts are considering a number of issues affecting the growth of ICTs in the region as well as Africa’s position on issues at the global level.

On Thursday, delegates convened for the Special Session of the ATU administrative council, the first in a series of four meetings lined up in Nairobi.

Key issues for discussion in the meeting included the consideration and approval of the new ATU Strategic Plan (2019-2022), the question of the seat of the ATU as well as matters of membership contributions.

The ATU is currently being hosted in Kenya on a temporary basis and the delegates will be expected to discuss proposals to have it permanently hosted in Kenya.

Speaking during the event, Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) Director General Mr. Francis Wangusi called for increased synergy among various stakeholders on the continent in order to effectively leverage on ICTs.

He said many of the obstacles faced in the region could be overcome through collaboration between government, development partners and private sector.

‘‘There are opportunities for collaboration, among them, ICT research, which can help establish formidable foundations for the frameworks and models on which our policies and strategies are based,’’ said Mr.Wangusi.

Mr.Wangusi said that the continent can leverage on collective efforts and interests through the ATU to get more value even at global decision-making conferences. 

‘‘It (ATU) is strategically placed to promote initiatives aimed at integrating regional markets, attracting investment into ICT infrastructure, and building institutional and human capacity, among others.

The ATU Secretary General Mr.Abdoulkarim Soumaila said one of the issues impeding the continental ICT body from discharging its mandate is the challenge by member states to honour their financial obligations.

‘‘It makes it very difficult for the union to set priorities and adopt a financial plan without the commitment of member countries in meeting their financial obligations,’’ said Mr.Soumaila.

ATU membership is expected to increase to 47 following the recent joining of Rwanda and Morocco.

Besides the Special Session of the Administrative Council, other meetings lined up include the 4th African Regional Preparatory Meeting for the 2018 International Telecommunications Union (ITU) Plenipotentiary Conference (ITU PP-18), the Conference Preparatory Committee, the Ministerial Roundtable and the ATU Conference of Plenipotentiaries.

Elections for the ATU Secretary General will take place on 17th August 2018 during the ATU Conference of Plenipotentiaries.

John Omo, Kenya’s candidate for the post of Secretary General,African Telecommunications Union (ATU).

Kenya is eying top positions in ICT organizations in the continental and at the global level. In Africa, Kenya is seeking the Secretary General’s seat of the African Telecommunications Union (ATU), the continental ICT body.  The elections will be held on 17th August at the ATU Conference of Plenipotentiaries, also being hosted by Kenya alongside other meetings.

At the global level, Kenya is seeking to be re-elected to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Council, a key decision making organ of the UN specialized agency for ICTs.

For the two positions, Kenya is banking on its strong and vibrant ICT industry in the region as a launch pad for the leadership positions.

At the ITU, Kenya is seeks to get one of the 13 slots reserved to the African continent out of the 48 seats of the Council. Kenya has been a member of the Council since 1982. The ITU Council oversees the affairs of the Union in between Plenipotentiary Conferences usually held every four years.

In the region, Kenya is fronting Mr. John Omo as its flag bearer for the position of Secretary General of the ATU.  The contest has also attracted candidatures from Chad, Nigeria, Republic of Congo and Burundi. The seat is currently held by Mr.Abdulakarim Soumaila a national of Niger, who is currently serving his second and final four-year term.

Mr.Omo is currently the Director of Legal Services at the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) and brings along a wealth of experience in the ICT industry spanning over 25 years.

His vision is to re-model the African Telecommunications Union (ATU) into a member-responsive organization that serves as the reference point for ICT on the continent in order to propel socio-economic transformation.

‘‘I envision ATU as that one united voice of the continent on matters ICT through leveraging on the collective efforts of stakeholders, including the academia, industry players, governments, and other intergovernmental organizations,’’ says Mr.Omo.

His priority is to build the capacity of member states, increase access to broadband, strengthen cross-border interconnectivity, and infuse innovation that can enable Africa harness the immeasurable opportunities that the digital age presents. 

Mr. Omo has been instrumental in the development of legal instruments for various bodies dealing with ICTs regionally and globally. Mr.Omo has overseen critical legal, regulatory and policy frameworks that have spurred the development of ICTs.

Additionally, he has held leadership positions at a number of fora in regional and international organizations. These include the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), African Telecommunications Union (ATU), Universal Postal Union (UPU), East African Communications Organization (EACO), Association of Regulators of Information and Communications of Eastern Africa (ARICEA), among others.

‘‘I therefore bring a deep understanding and appreciation of the key issues affecting the ICT sector across the continent and will leverage on this expertise to steer the African Telecommunications Union (ATU) to greater levels of prosperity,’’ says Mr.Omo.

Since the beginning of 2018, Kenya has mounted intensive campaigns the ATU and ITU positions at various regional and global forums.

Elections for the ATU Secretary General’s position will be held on 17th August 2018 in Nairobi during the ATU Conference of Plenipotentiaries, the top decision making organ of the ATU. Kenya is currently hosting the ATU headquarters on a temporary basis.

The ATU elections will be preceded by a series of other meetings, that will discuss pertinent issues on the development of ICTs on the continent, from 9th August 2018 at the Safari Park Hotel and Casino.

On the other hand, elections for the ITU Council will be held in November 2018 during the ITU Plenipotentiary Conference scheduled to be held in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates.

 

About Mr. John Omo

Mr. John Omo is a distinguished lawyer with over 25 years experience in international legal advisory roles, 18 of which are in the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector, in Kenya, regionally and globally. He is currently the Director for Legal Services at the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA), the country’s ICT regulator.

In his current capacity, Mr. Omo is responsible for providing strategic leadership over the Communications Authority’s legal policies and activities.  These include, but are not limited to, provision of expertise; development of legislation; preparation and presentation of national positions at treaty-making, multilateral and bilateral negotiations. He also oversees the implementation of international obligations at the national level.