The purpose of this letter is to give you an early brief on the highlights and achievements at the Assembly with particular reference to issues of close interest to the African region. A comprehensive report is under preparation and will be forwarded to you in due course.

a) Pre- Assembly Coordination

In correspondences prior to the Assembly, the Secretariat maintained communication with the Member States, on various aspects of the conference. These included issues on nomination of national coordinators and delegations, establishment of national positions on Assembly issues, specifying key areas that impact on Africa (e.g. accounting rate reform, Internet Protocol issues and IMT 2000) as well as the convening of a Pre- Assembly Preparatory Meeting on 31 August, in Sun City, South Africa.

The above meeting, whose report was circulated to the Member States, reviewed the Assembly Agenda and suggested common approaches on matters of interest to the African region.

b) Highlights and Achievements

The coordination of the African participation by the ATU Secretariat at the WTSA 2000 was a great success especially when compared with the 1996 World Telecommunications Standardisation Conference where there was no significant representation in the structural organs of the Conference. It is also significant to mention that there was complete unanimity and cohesiveness of views on key and other contentious issues of the Assembly, thanks to the effective consultation mechanism established throughout the entire duration of the Assembly. .In this regard, we are happy to report that the Union's objective of harmonising strategies and positions of Member States at international Conferences, was achieved.

The following 20 Member States participated in the Assembly:-

Benin Madagascar
Botswana Mali
Burkina Faso Niger
Burundi Nigeria
Cameroon Uganda
Djibouti Senegal
Egypt South Africa
Gabon Tanzania
Ghana Chad
Kenya Togo


c) Representation In Assembly Management Structures And 2000-2004 Study Groups

Through effective consultation and lobbying strategies, election results to the various organs of the Assembly Study Groups met with Africa's expectations. The following Team, which for functional strategy we propose to call " ATU FOCUS GROUP ON ITU-T ACTIVITIES (AFG - ITU/T)" emerged.

1. Chairman- also
Vice- Chairman (WTSA 2000)
Mr Gilbert Adanusa
2. Vice-Chairman - also
Chairman (Committee 2 WTSA 2000)
Mrs P. Abenkou Eba'a
3. Member - also
Vice-Chairman (TSAG)
Mr A. Zourmba
4. Member - also
Vice-Chairman (Study Group 3)
Mr H.K. Hamani
5. Member - also
Vice-Chairman (Study Group IMT 2000)
Mr P. Masambu
6. Member - also
Chairman (Tariff Group for Africa)
Mr M.Ndaro
7. Member - also
Vice-Chairman ( " " )
Mr E. Elop
8. Member - also
Vice- Chairman ( " " )
Mr M. Traore
9. Member - also
Vice- Chairman ( " " )
Mr A. Akue-Kpakpo

Both Mr. Adanusa and Mrs. Eba'a were members of the overall 'Steering Committee' of the Assembly that successfully managed the affairs of the Conference.

In our future strategy to enhance ATU's participation in ITU-T's activities, the Secretariat proposes to coordinate the following tasks through the above Focus Group:-

  • Promote Standardisation Activities in ICT Industries in Africa.
  • Solicit, coordinate and prepare inputs to ITU-T Meetings and Activities from ATU,ITU Sector Members and Associate Members.
  • In liaison with ATU Secretariat establish and nurture effective networking/discussion Groups on subjects in the respective Study Groups.
  • Promote the Development of Standardisation Professionals including development of career paths for African Experts within the ITU-T Study Group management structures.
  • Promote the formation of 3rd Generation Multi-media Telecentre Partnership (3GMTP) to develop Africa specific open standards for telecentres that are needed for meeting Universal Access Obligations.

d) Inter-Regional Coordination

Consultations were maintained with other regional organisations namely, Asia-Pacific Telecommunity (APT), CITEL of America and CEPT of Europe as well as individual delegations from the developed and the developing regions of the world. The growing recognition of ATU was evident especially through contacts and collaboration with other regional groups on contentious issues, like "international Internet connectivity" and "accounting rate reforms".

We agreed on proposals for closer co-operation using Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) agreements that would enable exchange of information and reciprocal observer status at open meetings and conferences.

e) Key issues of interest to Africa

The three main issues mentioned earlier, namely:-

  • Accounting Rate Reform
  • Internet Protocol Issues (as main ICT convergence tool)
  • IMT 2000 and beyond issues proved to be of considerable interest and the Assembly decisions thereon, met with ATU's expectations.

The Recommendation on accounting rates, referred to as "ANNEX E to D 140" was adopted. This provides for rate levels based on teledensity for application during the transitional period up to 2004.

With regard to IP issues, the main proposal was on sharing of cost for the provision of 'International Internet facilities' between Administrations. This matter proved extremely contentious resulting in protracted negotiations. Ultimately, a text on the lines of the original proposal was adopted.

With regard to IMT 2000, the Assembly decided to set up a new special Study Group under the standard provisions of ITU-T in preference to a special Task Force.

f) Future Strategies

As proposed in the pre- Assembly briefs by the Secretariat and also approved by the African delegates in Montreal, the future strategy to achieve effective participation in TSB activities, should aim to achieve the following:-

  • Identification of specialists by Administrations for priority Study Groups as a minimum.
  • Identification of volunteer Administrations to provide leadership in various study groups.
  • Establishment of platforms for discussion and information exchange.
  • Promotion of full time and professional level participation in ITU activities (other Regional Telecom Organisations APT, CITEL, CEPT, etc. have achieved this!)

The Focus Group mentioned earlier will form an integral part of this strategy.

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