PITA Telecoms (Digital) Strategy Forum

October 16, 2018

PITA President Mr. Sione Veikoso

ITU Regional Director for Asia-Pacific Mr. Ioane Koroivuki

CEOs, heads of agencies, friends from the private and public sectors

Ladies and gentlemen:

Bula vinaka and warm greetings to you all!

Firstly, I would like to thank you for inviting me to be here today, as we highlight the importance of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) development for Pacific Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in overcoming the tyranny of distance and isolation in the era of Digital Transformation.

Since the opening of the telecommunications markets in the early 2000 until today, there has been quite an expansion in connectivity including fixed line, mobile and internet connectivity. By 2020, most of the Pacific Island Countries will have had access to high-speed and high-bandwidth capacity submarine cables, replacing or complementing satellite access. Several studies have pointed to the potential for increasing economic growth rates through ICT-enabled opportunities and by increasing levels of investments. Investments in solutions such as smart grids, e-payments and data-driven smart agriculture are particularly transformative for the Pacific SIDS.

Some of the examples of UNDP’s supported interventions in the Asia-Pacific include, MPs in Bhutan using internet to connect remotely with their constituents, to an access-to-information project in Bangladesh where now no citizen needs to travel more than 4 kms to get digital government services. Further, drones have been employed by our projects in the Maldives to monitor coastal erosion, while social media reporting will be increasingly used for assessing post-disaster needs in the Pacific. In addition, later in the day you will also get to learn about the digital platform solution which our Pacific Financial Inclusion Program (PFIP) is rolling out to improve delivery of financial services in the Pacific, reaching out to 2 million low-income people across the Pacific Island Countries.

Science, technology and innovation are essential enablers and drivers of sustainable development. Within that notion, telecom industry holds a transformational potential to connect people and institutions, improve quality of human condition, promote economic development governance and service delivery.

A truly inclusive Digital Pacific must ensures that nobody is left behind as per the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, encapsulated by 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We firmly believe that by improving ICT infrastructure, connectivity, human resource capabilities, national legislation as well as public and private sector involvement, we can significantly bring forward the achievement of SDGs that leaves no one behind.

Now, I will leave you with a video showcasing UNDP’s work in ICT and youth development. There’s much that public and private sectors can do, working in partnership, to promote development that is inclusive and sustainable. I hope this forum identifies ways of working collaboratively to promote the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals.

Vinaka vakalevu!