- 1994-09-19 (Creation)
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It is once again a pleasure for us to find ourselves among our friends in the international community.
Our country's participation in the United Nations and its agency, the international Telecommunications Union, is a matter of more than passing importance to us. Indeed, it is of the utmost importance to the reconstruction and development of our country and of the region we live in. The achievement of ever-lasting peace, the elimination of poverty and illiteracy and the preservation of the environment - goals to which we as a nation are unshakeably committed - cannot be realised without co¬operation and consensus which forums such as the ITU provide.
The complementary character of politics, economics and technology, particularly in the modern world, is more than just a philosophy but a matter of practical relevance for the development objectives we have set ourselves. It is with this understanding that we have pursued many international associations and friendships, taking our rightful place in the Commonwealth, United Nations, Organisation of African Unity, Southern African Development Community and other multilateral institutions.
South Africa has experienced the value of these relations - including within forums such as the WHO, UNICEF, UNDP and UNHCR - very keenly during the years of struggle to realise a democratic dispensation. I would therefore like to thank all those associated with the ITU, in particular, for resolutions and policies that, without doubt, played a critical role in enabling our country to be where it is - and for me to write to you as I do - today.
The process of de-colonisation in Africa over the past three decades has improved communication and co-operation, not just among African nations, but between Africa and the rest of the world. However, as we enter the 21st Century, we must strive for the equitable growth of the least-developed countries and the establishment of their own core strengths and regional self-reliance. This is in the interest of the developed countries as well.
Technology is a powerful tool that can be used to tremendous effect in the upliftment of disadvantaged communities. I urge you to channel your thoughts and energies into this matter, and particularly to consider how these communities, women and disabled people can become more fully involved in the development of technology and in utilising the many benefits that it provides.
I am proud to indicate that our country has successfully traversed the major steps of transition to democracy and social equity. The
establishment of the Government of National Unity is an important landmark in our history. This Government, bringing together major representatives of South African society, is acting as one, to find creative ways and means of achieving each of the objectives that together make up our goal of a better life for all South Africans.
Our Reconstruction and Development Programme is a crucial statement of policy and an extensive set of goals and objectives that, once achieved, will see our country and our people overcome the imbalances created by apartheid. The goodwill generated during the elections and thereafter, continues to infuse our nation as we tackle our new tasks. as a united people.
Information is the currency of any democracy, and an expression of the measure of freedom in any society. Our own policies aim to leverage the potential provided by telecommunications, as an important facilitator, in furthering the aims of our Reconstruction and Development Programme. We seek to deliver communication services to as many of our people as rapidly and as cheaply as is possible. This will be crucial in realising economic growth and social equity.
While telecommunications is less than 150 years old, its impact on the human race has been colossal. We are convinced that, today, telecommunications can become an important tool in improving mutually-beneficial North-South relations. This requires, on the one hand; the strengthening of forums such as the ITU as well as international non-governmental organisations involved in communications and development. On the other hand, it is crucial that the developing and least-developed countries systematically harness the benefits of telecommunications for sustainable programmes to improve the quality of life of all our peoples.
South Africa is determined to play its role in realising these objectives, hand-in-hand with our neighbours and the African continent as a whole.
We invite you to invest in our country and to share your knowledge and skills with our people. You are also welcome to visit South Africa and savour our beautiful landscapes and multi-faceted heritage.
Let us use technology for its true value: to build peace in the universe.
President: Republic of South Africa