ITU SG visits Tonga, first in the Pacific, presents satellite gifts, launches new portal

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Secretary General Mr Houlin Zhao’s visit to the kingdom of Tonga last week marked the first time in history the head of the international body visit the Pacific region.

During his visit Zhao launched a new government web portal and presented new satellite systems and IT equipment.

“These will be used to address the lack of telecommunication connectivity in the outer islands. The Minister of Internal Affairs Hon. Fe’ao Vakata received two sets of the satellite on behalf of the Niuas.

“The two sets will be used in both Niuatoputapu and Niuafo’ou high schools to better their telecommunication connectivity. The equipment presented also included laptops, PCs, headphones, wireless routers, printers, wireless adapters and webcams”.

The donation from ITU is part of the organisation’s Project Development of Satellite Communications Capacity and Emergency Communications Solutions for Small Development States of the Pacific.

Mr Zhao said:  “I am very much excited with my first official visit to the Pacific Island areas. I never got a chance to come to this region except Australia.”

“I was looking for opportunities to come to the region because I have heard a lot of good development in the region particularly Tonga, because I met with the Honorable Deputy Prime Minister many times in the past and particularly the last two months, I met him four times.”

“So it’s very fortunate that today I have a chance to come to your beautiful country of Tonga and witness the development of ICT and Telecom.”

Mr. Zhao said Tonga has made great efforts to improve the capability of its ICT and Telecom.

“I applauded this good achievement and today I am very honoured to have the chance to launch this government portal which is another milestone to see how the Tongan people can profit from this new technology to increase their contacts with the government,” he said.

Zhao said : “the new portal is a good example of how ITU’s Pacific region member uses ICT as great enablers to facilitate social and economic developments”.

Mr. Zhao said that at ITU conferences, there are resolutions about assisting the union’s island member countries.

“At our conferences we always put some special resolutions to talk about assistance to our island countries. And this morning I discussed with Hon. Deputy Prime Minister the development and also the challenges in front of us. I think that through my visit, we’ll have some good first kind acknowledges to understand the challenges in front of us and in particular to address the issues such as emergency communication after natural disaster and problems happened.”

Zhao assured the government that ITU will do their best to cooperate with the Government of Tonga.

The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for MEIDECC, Hon. Siaosi Sovaleni said he was thrilled with the new initiative because the new portal is a mechanism to support the government’s vision.

“I am indeed excited because of the potential of this portal as a stepping stone, has in supporting the government’s vision to communicate better and to serve the public more effectively,” he said.

He explained that the first government portal was established by the Ministry of Information and Communications in order to create a more connected and empowered society between the public and the government.

“The idea was that the existence of such ministry will promote a more accountable and transparent environment by providing information about government’s policies, programs and activities. With that aim a first government portal was designed.”

“The launch of this website fully recognised these developments and hopefully a step in the right direction. It is much more than just a simple embracement of ICT. It is more than an information portal.”

“This new portal embodies the government’s unwavering quest to ensure that its citizens can have an easy access to government information and empowering them to exercise their rights stated in our constitution.”

The focus of the new site is based on the government’s services where the public can keep track of information and events of different ministries and there is a possibility that the new database will attract foreign investors to further Tonga’s development.

Crown Prince Tupouto’a was the guest of honour and present in the special occasion were the Prime Minister, Ministers of the Crown, Australian High Commissioner, Japanese and Chinese Ambassadors to Tonga and representatives from communication operators.

Mr. Zhao met with the Prime Minister Hon ‘Akilisi Pohiva at the Prime Minister’s Office to discuss issues in regards to ICT and Telecom and to look at ways of how to further the cooperation between Tonga and ITU.

Mr. Zhao met with communication operators and was able to visit the Ha’amonga ‘a Maui last Thursday afternoon. He also met with the principal of Tonga High School and Tupou College to observe the use of PC’s in the computer labs and to talk with the principals of the challenges faced in regards to ICT.

On Friday morning, Mr. Zhao visited the Tonga Cable Limited and departed Tonga in the afternoon.

ITU is the United Nations specialized agency for information and communication technologies (ICT) The ITU coordinates the shared global use of the radio spectrum, promoting international cooperation in assigning satellite orbits, works to improve telecommunication infrastructure in the developing world, thus providing a seamless global communications system that is robust, reliable and adaptable to the evolving needs of the word regarding Information and Communications.

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