Please allow chair; to first congratulate you and your bureau members on your successful elections at this 20 th session of the ITU Plenipotentiary Conference. My delegation has full confidence in your leadership and wish you every success.
2. Let me begin by taking the ITU for its continuous support to the developments of ICT/telecommunications sectors in Vanuatu.
3. Vanuatu has positively progressed over the last 4 years and thereby well on its way to achieving the goals of the Connect 2020 agenda. It has always been our firm conviction that ICT as an enabler will provide a common platform to bring everyone together
4. Mobile broadband coverage has increased to over 98% of Vanuatu's total population. Vanuatu has experienced a growth of 24 % in mobile subscriptions since the last quarter of 2016 with services becoming increasingly affordable as reflected on the 20% market revenue increase reported in the last quarter of 2017. Satellite broadband network has geographically covered 100 % of all Islands of Vanuatu. The rollout of Fibre-To-Home (FTH) and Fibre-To-Business ( FTB) together with the local presence of caching servers of some big CDNs at the Vanuatu Internet Exchange Point, combined with the leapfrog from 2G to 3G and 4G+ has seen major improvements to internet speed in Vanuatu. These achievements could have not been delivered without the multi-stakeholder collaboration - an approach promoted in the National ICT Policy.
5. These achievements did come with major and difficult challenge attributed to the archipelagic nature of the country with islands separated by water. The Vanuatu Government acknowledges these challenges and therefore, has taken stringent measures to address them through development of innovative policies - for example Infrastructure Sharing Policy which is currently being developed. This policy strategy will enable collaboration between the Government and stakeholder through the office of the Telecommunication, Radiocommunication and Regulator on improving quality of services , user experience and addressing areas as the black spot areas.
6. Vanuatu is located on the earthquake-prone " ring of fire " that sits at the centre of the Pacific cyclone belt, and know to be the world's most at -risk country for natural hazard. Vanuatu acknowledges assistance from ITU in the work currently being undertaken to establish a clear and operational National Emergency Telecommunication Plan for Vanuatu. We acknowledge assistance and support from other regional partners like the Asia Pacific Telecommunication ( APT) who have been working closely with Vanuatu on innovative solutions for our early warning systems for volcano as well as post disaster recovery support solutions know as the Movable, Deployable ICT Resource Unit (MDRU)
7. With the support of the Australian Government through the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade ( DFAT)'s Cyber Affairs Program and the Asia Pacific Network Information Centre (APNIC ), Vanuatu has established it Computer emergency Response team ( CERT VU). The rate at which the Pacific is being connected by the fibre optic submarine cable is amazing. However, our geographical locations of islands, Provincial Centres and communities will always remain inherent challenges. At the same time, the Government and its stakeholders are committed to capacity building for Ni-Vanuatu. The Vanuatu Government is also considering back up infrastructure gateway especially the submarine cable.
8. Whilst we are seeing all the progress and achievements int ICT developments, we also acknowledge the potentials for technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things, Smart Cities, Block Chain and 5G. Artificial Intelligence has potentials to contribute in some specific sector service such as health whereby delivery of medical supplies to remotest parts of the country remains a challenge. The potentials for block Chain technology are being considered subject to the enactment of appropriate legislation.
9. IN 2017, ITU conducted the ICT Regulatory Tracker, which placed Vanuatu in Group 3 " a regulatory environment that enables investment, innovation and access, dual focus on stimulating competition in service and content delivery, and consumer protection". Vanuatu Government foresees the potentials of digital transformation and digital society for Vanuatu and work as begun on establishing a National Digital Governance Roadmap which will enable Vanuatu to establish clear and robust policies including legislative and regulatory framework to boost ICT development in Vanuatu.
10. Over- The-Top services are beneficial to our island nations however there are also challenging issues. We believe that through our collaborative engagements, we can find solutions that will be beneficial to all.
11. May i conclude by thanking all our partners and I would like to express our deep appreciation to the ITU for always being at the forefront in assisting member states.
To our generous hosts, we thank the Government of the United Arab Emirates for the wonderful hospitality in this great city.
I thank you, Honourable Chair.