Sadc prepares for World Radio conference

LINEO MABEKEBEKE

The ministry of communication, together with the Southern African Development Community (SADC) held the 6th SADC preparatory meeting for the World Radio Communication conference 2019 on Tuesday, May 28, 2019. 

Principal Secretary in the ministry of communication, science and technology, Mabotle Damane, said SADC seeks to achieve economic development, regional integration as well as improvement of the quality of life of the people of Southern Africa, among other things. 

She said it is up to Lesotho, as a member of state and officials in the Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) sector, to see to it that they contribute towards the goal by developing common positions through discussions and agreements on the common interests in the utilisation of spectrum within the SADC region.

The aim of the meeting, she said, was to seek common positions that will ensure that they have radio frequency spectra that will facilitate the deployment of ICT Service to achieve sustainable development goals, African Union (AU) agenda 2063 in addition to their respective national strategic development goals.  

However, she indicated that at the moment, they are faced with challenges such as provision of broadband services to their citizens as well as the threats deriving from climate change. 

She added that they are aware of climate changes especially in the SADC region and all they need is to modernise and improve their techniques to ensure their readiness during natural disasters such as the recent cyclones which hit the Eastern Coast of the Southern Africa, affecting Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Comoros Island and Tanzania. 

She said the radio frequency spectrum is vital to ensure that there is reliable communication to keep their citizens informed about possible disasters and put migration measures in place.  

Senior programme officer ICT and SADC secretary Dr George Ah-Threw said SADC member states continue to explore affordable broadband technologies to bridge the digital divide and also implement the SADC declaration on the fourth industrial revolution using ICTs, hence they are also part of a large market for wireless technologies but no trials are taking place.   

“There is need for better priced internet access to bridge the internet penetration gap and, to complete the work, there must also be the release of spectra for the deployment of new wireless technologies that promises to be more cost effective,” he said.

Fillemon Johannes, representation from Namibia and chair of SADC, noted that the World Radio communication Conferences (WRCs) such as the one they are preparing for in October and November this year, are the platforms where ITU deals with issues related to the global management of the radio-frequency spectrum and satellite orbital slots –  a limited natural resource whose increased demand has been notable from a large and growing number of services such as fixed, mobile, broadcasting, maritime, space research, emergency telecommunications, meteorology, global positioning systems (GPS), environmental monitoring and communication services.

It is also worth mentioning that spectrum respects no geographical borders, hence the need for them to disregard their territorial borders and see themselves as one community sharing the same natural resources, he added. 

“You will agree with me that we are only a handful in this room but the decisions we will make on this platform affects the masses; our aim is to come up with an amicable SADC position that will benefit our region at large. Hence our utmost consideration and due diligence are the toll order of the day,” he concluded.

The world radio communication conference meeting will be a four-day meeting which is expected to end today.

World Radio Communication conferences (WRC) are held every three to four years to review, and, if necessary, revise the Radio Regulations, the international treaty governing the use of the radio-frequency spectrum and the geostationary-satellite and non-geostationary-satellite orbits. 

Revisions are made on the basis of an agenda determined by the ITU Council, which takes into account recommendations made by previous world radio communication conferences.

The general scope of the agenda of world radio communication conferences is established four to six years in advance, with the final agenda set by the ITU Council two years before the conference, with the concurrence of a majority of Member States.

The main conference will be in Egypt from October 28 to November 22 this year.

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