The African Telecommunications Union (ATU) has welcomed South Sudan, becoming the 49th member following its official admission into the Union through an announcement made in Nairobi Kenya at the ATU Headquarters. South Sudan will be joining 48 other African countries and 54 ICT companies under the ATU umbrella.
As a specialized agency of the African Union in the field of telecommunications/ICT, ATU represents its members’ interests at global decision-making ICT conferences and provides a forum for stakeholders involved in ICTs to formulate effective strategies to improve access to information infrastructure and services in the continent.
When signing the membership agreement, South Sudan Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Ambassador Beatrice Khamisa was joined by the Director-General of the National Communications Authority of South Sudan, Eng. Napoleon Adok Gai.
OMO lauded the East African State for the decision to join the Union and further reiterated the importance of partnerships. “Collaboration among African countries and regional organizations accelerates the development of ICT in the continent and provides a platform for exchanging information, expertise, and technology relating to info-communications for the benefit of all,” he said.
Both the ATU membership and now South Sudan will be expected to front a stronger position especially in rolling out initiatives to integrate regional markets, implement ICT projects, attract investment into ICT infrastructure, and build institutional and human capacity. Coming at a strategic time when for the first time, Africa will host the ITU World Telecommunication Development Conference (WTDC-21) in November 2021 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, South Sudan’s admission into ATU presents the potential of strengthening the African common positions in the conference as well as others in future.
In her remarks, Ambassador Beatrice Khamisa, South Sudan’s top diplomat expressed her country’s openness to partnerships, investments, and innovations in ICT that will create employment opportunities and accelerate the young nation’s development. “It has been a long wait for South Sudan to realize this important achievement in its quest to establish itself as an ICT-centric model country,” she said.
With 49 countries on board, ATU hopes to guide the continent into a future that is more connected and exposed to the full benefits of ICT. This is even as the Internet World Stats observed that by 2019, Africa had experienced an above-average Internet penetration rate at 39.8 percent population against the global average of 57.3 percent.
Despite this fact, however, Africa’s ICT development is still at its infancy stage compared to other regions, hence necessitating collaborations to give the continent a head-start. “Collaboration is the most effective way of promoting the rapid development of Telecommunications/ICTs in Africa and enable the continent achieve the full connection between countries,” Omo said in conclusion.