Minister of Economic Affairs
COMMONWEALTH OF THE BAHAMAS
Plenipotentiary Conference 2022 (PP-22), Bucharest, Romania, 26 September to 14 October 2022
Thank you, Mr. President,
On behalf of The Bahamian Delegation, I express gratitude to the Government and people of Romania for their warm welcome and hospitality. At the same time, I congratulate the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) for the exceptional work in organizing this Plenipotentiary Conference.
The rapid pace of technological advancement is creating a new divide between those with access and those without. In response, the Bahamian government is moving swiftly to incorporate a comprehensive national digital transformation strategy that will allow for the continued growth and advancement of our people and our country.
The first tier in that strategy is addressing the accessibility of digital technologies across our archipelago. The Bahamian Government is presently offering local telecoms providers a substantial reduction in their communication fees, paid to the government, to offset their investment of a minimum of $100-thousand dollars in emerging technologies. We anticipate, as a result, a widespread rollout of these technologies in population centers and underserved communities across The Bahamas. In fact, we are already seeing early signs of success with the rapid expansion of fiber optic broadband services.
At the same time, we are addressing affordability, especially for the vulnerable among us who may be disenfranchised considering the high cost of communications technologies. Connecting the unconnected means bringing the cost of these technologies within the reach of our entire citizenry. It is in this vein that the Bahamian Government partnered with our national telecoms regulator to establish a Universal Services Fund that will subsidize the cost of high-speed internet as a social safety net for those who cannot afford it.
These strategies align succinctly with our ongoing commitment to develop a digital society that benefits all Bahamians- regardless of geographic location. We have invested millions into the rapid expansion of e-government services. Not only are we no longer encumbered by some of the challenges limiting our ability to provide adequate education, healthcare and important government services to some of our people; but, at the same time, infrastructural expansion continues to spur economic growth through foreign direct investment and the emergence of local businesses taking advantage of the tech revolution.
I must add that our national efforts are undergirded by the work we do in fora like this. The ITU is the global champion of digital transformation, and The Bahamas fully supports its work. We are a strong voice for our region and other small island developing states and we would like to continue our advocacy with a second term at ITU Council. We request your support for The Bahamas’ candidacy and, at the same time, for our candidate for BDT Director, Mr. Stephen Bereaux. With his experience and commitment to ICT advancement across the world, Stephen is the best choice to lead the BDT as it builds on its many recent successes.
I invite all nations to stand with us, as together, we embrace a new era of digital communications where all peoples can thrive.
Thank you and I wish you a successful conference in Bucharest.