Samoa’s Information Technology Minister recently attended an inaugural Ministerial Alliance for Digital Nations 2023 hosted by the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO) where Hon Toelupe Poumulinuku Onesemo was elected as one of two Vice Chairs of the CTO Alliance.
The Tanzanian Minister who had been a Vice Chair was elected to Chair while Mozambique was elected First Vice-Chair with Samoa as Second Vice-Chair.
The CTO Minister’s Alliance will facilitate collaboration between its member Governments and the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) industry.
The conference brought together stakeholders and governments to address ICT issues for transformation.
The inaugural Ministerial Alliance considered affordable universal broadband access as being essential for digital transformation.
Commonwealth ministers shared their challenges in achieving affordable universal broadband access and ICT industry representatives responded to the Ministers’ concerns, explain their technology and presented appropriate ICT solutions.
In his statement, Samoa’s Minister for Communication and Information Technology said the process of digital transformation is a collective responsibility that governments cannot achieve alone.
“Samoa in its Pathway for Development 2021-2026, commits to ‘fostering social harmony, safe and freedom for all’. And to ensure that we stay committed to that vision, one of our priorities is creating transformative opportunities through the innovative use of information and communication technology.”
“But we cannot do it alone,” reiterated Hon Toelupe. “The private sector has an integral role to play in the process and collaboration and innovation are imperative for success.”
“There is a saying in Samoan: O le tele o sulu e maua ai figota. A fisher’s catch comes aplenty when there is more than one torch used. In a more meaningful interpretation and application for us, ladies and gentlemen, “it is through collaboration, that challenges can be overcome,” Samoa’s Minister told the global world.
An important activity of the Ministerial Alliance was an innovative networking session that introduced Commonwealth Ministers to ICT industry leaders to further foster collaborative action.
To ensure Samoa capitalises on all opportunities presented, Samoa’s Minister was accompanied by MCIT Chief Executive Officer, Lefaoalii Unutoa Auelua-Fonoti.
“The Ministerial Alliance presented emerging technologies and their implications for policy, legislation and regulations,” said Lefaoalii. “At this inaugural event, spectrum management issues relating to the technologies were also discussed.”
Heads of international and regional organisations
Ladies and gents
I bring you warm greetings from the heart of the Pacific – Samoa. A place where white and sandy beaches remain untouched by developments and traditional means of hospitality go unnoticed, draws a sea of tourists to explore, discover and make memories.
Memories that have been well documented through photographs, online testimonies, blogs even mass media reporting. Samoa, as one of the tourist destinations, is no longer isolated from the world as these tell-all stories have transformed images of my home by digital means, into very inspiring and beautiful catch phrases for the world to see and inspire others to take the same journey.
It is always super amazing to think about the impact of that single click of a button could change and share one’s ordinary life in a village to become the extraordinary story in a city.
Don’t we all love sharing our daily whereabouts and stories, online not because we want to but the fact that we want to stay connected and bring the world closer to our homes.
As a small island state, we are now part of ICT globalization that has brought both benefits and challenges at the same time. While we enjoy the comfort of our white and sandy beaches, there is a farmer who strives to make ends meet within the vicinity of his local traditional market and one who bears no knowledge of how to access and afford online markets to earn extra to meet daily needs. And this is what and why we are here for, to ensure that a farmer and a tourist receive the same privileges of staying connected in the ICT bridge.
Samoa in its Pathway for Development 2021-2026, commits to ‘fostering social harmony, safe and freedom for all’. And to ensure that we stay committed to that vision, one of our priorities is creating transformative opportunities through the innovative use of information and communication technology.
But we cannot do it alone. There is a saying in Samoan: O le tele o sulu e maua ai figota. A fisher’s catch comes aplenty when there is more than one torch used. In a more meaningful interpretation and application for us, ladies and gentlemen, “it is through collaboration, challenges can be overcome.”
I need not bore you with our endless challenges as a small island state with limited resources, for we may have ambitious goals and objectives but if we do not walk our talk, ICT bridges that we so seem hopeful for in this journey, falls.
From infrastructural upgrades to policy and legislation framework development, to connectivity concerns and the need for ICT funding support, the threshold question is: so much we would like to transform the lives of ordinary citizens through digitization of their daily lives but we must ask, to what extent that we have to be responsible for their safety from cyberattacks and bullying? One would have to bear the brunt of our own innovation. Our children – should feel safe. Our communities – should feel safe. Farmers and tourists should be safe.
In addition to these challenges, the security of our islands such as my home country, is being threatened by the full force of climate change. Within the confinement of our very limited resources, we teach our people to be resilient by learning as much as they could through various technological platforms available to them. All of us in this room, NEED EACH OTHER.
Samoa will continue to embrace digital transformation for her economy. We would like to see more tourists enter our shores and enjoy an affordable internet usage at the beaches and even better, we would love to see our farmers afford access to sell his products online to support families, villages and church commitments.
If there were better words to end my two-cents worth, it would be: LET US HELP EACH OTHER.
Thank you and Soifua.