Samoa’s Minister of Information and Communications Technology, Hon. Toelupe Poumulinuku Onesemo has reiterated Samoa’s position to support the Asia-Pacific Information Superhighway as a useful regional platform to promote digital cooperation.
Speaking at the Asia-Pacific Digital Ministerial Conference in Seoul, Republic of Korea, Toelupe confirmed Samoa’s commitment and support of the UNESCAP’s new Action Plan 2022-2026 and thanked the hosts and organizers for taking initiative.
“It is an opportunity to discuss the status of our development initiatives, consider resolutions for the challenges, decide on the pathways to advance digital transformations in our societies and our communities, and more importantly strengthen cooperation and partnerships between our UNESCAP family and key stakeholders,” said Toelupe.
The Minister re-iterated the importance of regional cooperation to ensure no-one is left behind.
“Like any organization, its members have different capacities, opportunities and challenges, and it is why Samoa, as a member, values the relationships and will always put in the effort to work with our bilateral and multilateral partners..
“Partnerships between the developed and developing members to share technology, share knowledge and best practices, helps to bridge the digital divide,” said Toelupe.
The Minister stressed the importance of partnerships with leading technologists and global companies in the region.
“Those who are the major contributors of the ICT industry.. as well as partnerships with universities for educational opportunities and many others.”
Toelupe said it was also important to seek opportunities to work together to promote the use of emerging digital technologies and create a safe, secure, reliable and open digital ecosystem for all.
“Our Networks and infrastructure investments should strive to expand, improve, and equip us with the best available network technologies, and share best practices to build universal, affordable and secured connectivity that is not only of high quality and capacity, but also include next generation of networks in our region.”
The MCIT Minister said emerging technologies, including Artificial Intelligence (AI) should be developed and used responsibly.
Toelupe called for the protection of digital data, and for the region to work together to ensure the safety and security of our information.
“Digital data must be accessed relevantly and used in ways that contribute to improving the quality of life,” said Toelupe.
“More importantly, we must ensure digital inclusivity and bridge the digital divide…
“From Samoa’s perspective the barriers in the divide are the digital capacity and skills in our Government workforces, the capacity in our industry, our technicians and developers and our education systems…
“This is critical, just like the impact of climate change on our small islands, the digital divide in our islands is real, and I believe that education and capacity building for our youth, and their access to relevant digital skills and tools, are essential for the future”
Toelupe stressed Samoa’s willingness to work with all partners, both member states and private levels, “to ensure that we meet our new target and building toward the Sustainable Development Goals 2030”.
To conclude, the Samoa MCIT Minister touched in the COVID-19 global crisis.
“Although it impacted many lives, but such challenges brought opportunities, motivations and lessons..” he said.
“Personally, one of those vital lessons from the pandemic lockdown, is the importance of our families, communities and society.”
Toelupe quoted from Mahatma Ghandi when he said, “THE TRUE MEASURE OF ANY SOCIETY CAN BE FOUND IN HOW IT TREATS ITS MOST VULNERABLE MEMBERS”.
“With all the changes in technologies it is our task to ensure we share that technology, share that capacity and extra resources, and ensure the vulnerable members of our society will not be left behind,” concluded the Minister in his address.
“With that, I wish you all the very best in your deliberations and way forward during this Forum. Soifua ma ia Manuia.”
The Minister is attending the conference with Chief Executive Officer of MCIT, Lefaoalii Unutoa Auelua Fonoti.
This first Asia-Pacific Digital Ministerial Conference is themed, “Shaping Our Common Future”.
In order to enrich the discussions and deliberations of the Ministerial Conference, ESCAP and Korea’s MSIT are also organizing the “Asia-Pacific Digital Transformation Forum” (APDTF) together with side events at the same venue.
Among the side events, the “high-level policy dialogue on digital transformation” is set to provide a good opportunity for high-level senior officials from member States to dialogue with UN agencies, international and regional organizations as well as donor agencies and civil society on ICT/Digital agendas.
The high level side events aim to discuss and consider new digital business opportunities and cooperative actions towards an inclusive digital society and economy.