Africa’s Participation at the ITSO’s 40th Assembly of Parties (AP-40)

Ghana's Minister of Communications, Ursula Owusu presenting Africa’s position at the ITSO’s 40th Assembly of Parties. Source: ITSO

The International Telecommunications Satellite Organisation (ITSO) recently held its 40th Assembly of Parties (AP-40) at the American University Washington College of Law, US. The in-person meeting was held between 28-30 June 2022 and was attended by representatives of its member states. In addition, the meeting included several discussion points, including the determination of Domestic Public Telecommunications Services by the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the Central African Republic.

The 40th meeting of the ISTO Assembly had its main objective to examine the future and operational arrangements, global funding of ITSO activities by Intelsat and presentation of reliable information to ITSO by Intelsat. 

At the Assembly, the African front (Region D), considering the capacity acquired by several African countries in terms of exploration, operation and launch of satellites, contributing to the world development of ICT, according to the UN 2030 program, proposed the following themes:

  • The appointment of three new Notifying Administrations to reach a total of five so that each ITSO region has a Notifying Administration;
  • That the common assets of the organisation are distributed  and managed proportionally; and 
  • That the Organisation defines and determines the notifying Member State with the ITU to the orbital slots assigned to each region.

More than half of African nations are members of the ITSO and jointly made the above proposal. The African front also agreed and proposed the continuation of the Organisation as well as the term of the incumbent Director-General. Ghana’s Minister of Communications Ursula Owusu presented Africa’s position, urging the Parties to maintain the ITSO Agreement and renew the term of the current Director-General, Patrick Masambu, for four years. In addition, the African aim was to ensure the prior agreement of the ITSO on the principles suggested, with the implementation coming soon after.

The following countries were selected for the ITSO Advisory Committee (IAC).

  • Region A: Argentina, Columbia, Jamaica, Paraguay, United States
  • Region B: France, Hungary, Lichtenstein, Spain
  • Region C: Azerbaijan, Romania
  • Region D: Angola, Cameroon, Morocco, Senegal, South Africa, Uganda
  • Region E: Bangladesh, China, India, Iran, Japan, Philippines

The ITSO is an intergovernmental organisation headquartered in Washington DC, United States of America, with 149 Member States. The organisation incorporates the principle outlined in Resolution 1721 (XVI) of the General Assembly of the United Nations, which establishes that communication by means of satellite should be available to the nations of the world as soon as practicable on a global and non-discriminatory basis. Originally established in 1973 as INTELSAT, the International Telecommunications Satellite Organization was restructured in 2001. The restructuring led to the creation of a private entity, Intelsat S.A., and the intergovernmental organisation’s continuation with a new acronym (ITSO).

ITSO’s mission is to monitor the performance of Intelsat’s public service obligations and safeguard the Parties’ Common Heritage; ensure the performance of Core Principles for providing international public telecommunications services with high reliability and quality; and promote international public telecommunications services to meet the needs of the information and communication society.

The Organisation’s core principles also include maintaining global connectivity and global coverage for any country or territory that desires to connect with any other country or territory within and between the five regions of America, Western Europe, Eastern Europe, Africa and Asia. In addition, ITSO seeks to provide public telecommunications services, including capacity and price protection guarantees, to customers identified as, and connecting with, “Lifeline Connectivity Obligation” (‘LCO’) customers.

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