Speech for Australian High Com during ICT Day

Launching of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Pacific Day
17 May 2016 – Convention Centre
HOM’s speech
The Hon Charlot Salwai Tabimasmas, Prime Minister of the Republic of Vanuatu and Minister responsible for ICT;
Members of the diplomatic corps;
Jackson Miake, Acting Chief Information Officer;
Sameer Sharma, Advisor, ITU
Dalsie Baniala, Regulator and TRR staff;
OGCIO staff and government officials;
Representatives of the telecommunications industry, and the private sector;
Ladies and gentlemen.
Gud moning long yufala evriwan.
Tankyu tumas Praem Minista blong invaetem mi bakegen tedei blo markem ICT Pacific Day. Thank you for your acknowledgement of Australia’s support to the sector over the last 10 years.
I am pleased that Australia continues to be a part of this annual event, which is itself fast becoming an institution and I congratulate the efforts of the Vanuatu Government in emphasising the importance of ICT through events like these Pacific ICT Days.
Technological advancements in society have meant that as human beings, our ability to communicate and to access information is much easier now than it has ever been.
But with increased access, cyber security becomes even more important I congratulate the Vanuatu Government for developing its own Cyber Security Policy.
In April this year the Australian Government launched its Cyber Security Strategy. It’s a blueprint for meeting the dual challenges of advancing and protecting Australia’s interests online.
As part of the strategy Australia will appoint a Cyber Ambassador. He or she will work with regional and global partners to advance internet freedom, combat cybercrime and share threat information.
I think the theme for this year [ICT Entrepreneurship for Social Impact] illustrates how the sector has developed and evolved over the years. Last year, we saw how vital ICT is in disaster preparedness before, during and after tropical cyclone Pam, since then, we have been able to enhance our services based on the lessons learned.
Some of you would be aware that Australia’s Foreign Minister and Minister for International Development and the Pacific recently launched the Pacific Humanitarian Challenge.
The challenge is an A$2 million initiative aimed at finding new solutions and testing new technologies that will improve the way that Australia and the world respond to natural disasters in the Pacific.
129 submissions were received. From them, 5 innovations were selected to be developed and tested over the next 18 months. I am pleased to say, 4 out of these 5 successful exciting new innovations utilise ICT. They include:
–      using an enhanced drone imagery system aimed at building an open source data system to access and share information collected by drones during a disaster;
–      an independent mobile communication system that is designed to work with smart phones, when normal communications fail; and
–      mobile insurance provider BIMA working with an investment company and Digicel to improve access to money after a disaster, and to bring low cost insurance to employees of small and medium enterprises.
Funding will be provided to support the development of these innovations and if they prove to be successful, they could be rolled out across the Pacific to be used by governments and others.
In 2015, through the work of the TRR and OGCIO in partnership with the Ministry of Education and Training and the Australian Government-funded Governance for Growth program, the Universal Access Policy fund was able to launch its school-based programs. I am eager to hear about the impacts these programs have had so far in the communities and schools they have been servicing.
I notice that, later today, a representative of the Pacific Institute of Public Policy will be speaking on a panel to talk about the findings of research into the socio-economic impacts of increased access to ICT services in Vanuatu, research which Australia funding supported.  
It will be interesting to see how these findings have contributed to the in enhancement and understanding of the vast potential of what ICT can achieve.
Australia’s substantial support to the ICT sector in Vanuatu reflects our strong commitment to supporting Vanuatu’s development and the important role ICT plays in this effort.
Happy ICT Pacific Day. Tankyu tumas.

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