· Hon. Prof. Nkandu Luo - Minister for Communications and Transport of Zambia and Chairperson of ATU Conference of Plenipotentiaries.
· Hon. Musalia Mudavadi - Minister for Information, Transport and Communications of Kenya.
· Hon. Dieudonné Sow- Assistant Minister for Communications of Mali.
· Outgoing Secretary General, Mr. Minemba Mamadou KEITA.
· Your Excellencies the Ambassadors and Members of Diplomatic Missions of Africa.
· Chairmen of CCK, TKL, POSTA and other Organisations Leaders.
· Director General of CCK, Managing Director of TKL and Postmaster General of POSTA and other Chief Executives.
· Distinguished Guests.
· Ladies and Gentlemen.

I am very delighted today to receive the instruments of my new job as Secretary General of the new Union, and take this first opportunity to share with you some thoughts and indeed my vision on how the new Union can unlock the potential for prosperity of Africa in the new Millennium.

But before I do so, may I once again thank the Ministers for Communications who elected me with such overwhelming support last December in Cape Town, South Africa. I am truly grateful for the challenge and trust bestowed on me and will do my utmost to reciprocate through dedicated service to the Union, that meets the satisfaction of all stakeholders.

My gratitude goes to His Excellency Honourable Daniel Arap Moi, the President of the Republic of Kenya, for nominating me as Kenyan candidate to vie for Secretary General position.

I am equally thankful for the tremendous support for my candidature by the Ministers, Permanent Secretaries and Staff involved in the Ministry of Information, Transport and Communications and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs plus Diplomatic Mission in South Africa.

Special thanks goes to the Chief Executives and Staff of CCK and TKL for the very special way they contributed to the success of my candidature.

The potential for prosperity in Africa is truly tremendous in the new millennium, given the ongoing thrust for policy reform and market restructuring that is sweeping across the continent.

Considering that Africa has 12% of global population but only 2% of the telephone lines, the investment potential for technology providers is over USD 60 billion just to bring the continent to the global average teledensity. The new revenues for network operators will exceed these sums on an annual basis given the very high return on capital per line in the region. With convergence of digital technologies, Africa will not need to build separate networks for telecommunications, computing and broadcasting and thus can rapidly leap forward to the Global information Economy.

To unlock this potential, the Union will move rapidly to implement strategies approved by the 4th Extraordinary Session of the Conference of Plenipotentiaries of PATU on 7th December 1997, the highlights of which are to:

  • Widen the membership base of the Union by admitting a new category defined as Associate Members from the private sector network operators. This will open a new era of public and private sector partnership in growing telecom networks in Africa.
  • Restructure the General Secretariat of the Union to create the necessary organisation focus for innovative implementation of agreed action plans with a new sense of urgency.
  • Sustain evolution of policy and regulatory frameworks to enhance investment flows into national and continental networks. Care will be taken to ensure that the regulatory frameworks developed are transparent and predictable, so as to consistently protect consumer interest, improve investor confidence and facilitate accelerated fulfilment of universal access obligations.
  • Develop licensing framework for cross-border connectivity and continental backbone network operations and service provision
  • Accelerate investment flows and operationalise continental telecom backbone projects which include : RASCOM Satellite, AFRICA ONE Submarine fibre optic cable; PANAFTEL micro-wave system and COMTEL micro-wave ATM network.
  • Adopt, internalise and implement the vision and missions of the Union
  • To make Africa an equal and active participant in the Global Information Society.
  • To promote the rapid development of info-communication industry in Africa to achieve universal access in addition to full broadband inter-country connectivity in an efficient and effective manner.

With these remarks, may I call upon the new stakeholders of the Union (Policy Makers, Regulators, Operators, Service Providers, Technology Providers including Education and Training providers) to be active in providing solutions for linking African capitals by fibre optic cable in our journey towards an "African Information Economy".

Finally, I wish to pay tribute to the outgoing Secretary General, Mr. Minemba Mamadou KEITA, for successfully steering the Union in the last five years especially through the rough and tumble of temporary relocation in Nairobi and the re-structuring exercises and initiatives.

May I also wish him every success in his endeavours back home in Mali.

Thank you.

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