Dubai, UAE: The International, and the African, Telecommunications Unions (ITU and ATU) have on 14th December 2023 announced that 18,326 new FM channels for Africa have been identified and deemed usable. The two organisations also announced that satellite resources for 31 African countries and 14 others outside Africa, valued at billions of US dollars, have been reclaimed.
At a ceremony in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on the fringes of the concluding World Radio communications Conference 2023 (WRC-23), ITU and ATU noted that the two achievements are a result of implementation of decisions sanctioned at the previous WRC in 2019 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.
WRC-19 adopted a resolution that sort to help countries, majority in Africa, with degraded Broadcasting Satellite Service (BSS) Plans, which are used to distribute television and radio signals, to replace them with better ones. The degradation was as a result of lack of resources for conducting proper coordination.
WRC-19 also paved the way for an agreement between ATU and ITU to undertake a project, known as, the GE84 (FM) Plan Optimization project, which sort to identify new usable radio frequency for FM sound broadcasting in Africa. Due to full exploitation, the FM radio channels allocated under the GE84 Plan, established in 1984, were depleted and many African countries were no longer able to assign channels to new or for expansion of FM radio stations.
ATU Secretary General, Mr. John OMO, who hosted the Dubai celebrations to mark the two achievements called on African Administrations to take full control and responsibility for the resources and create new opportunities in the telecommunication/ICT industry for the African people.
Acknowledging the different partners who enabled the two achievements, Mr. OMO said, “ATU is grateful to all partners who collaborated with us and we urge you to continue supporting us in promoting telecommunication/ICT infrastructure, digital services, ICT human capacity development, and creating an enabling environment for the advancement of our sector.”
ATU lauded and awarded the ITU, the ITU Radio communications Bureau (BR), the ITU Radio Regulations Board (RRB) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) for their roles in facilitating the two achievements. The recognized institutions provided the ATU with technical support, filing guidance, and capacity-building initiatives throughout the implementation of the two WRC-19 decisions.
ITU Secretary General, Ms. Doreen BOGDAN-MARTIN ––present at the forum –– commended ATU for spearheading the achievements. “You have achieved a major milestone for the continent, and for ITU – at a time when nearly 40% of the Sustainable Development Goal targets relies on the availability of earth observation data collected by satellite systems,” she said.
Ms. BOGDAN also announced that in 2024, the ITU will organize training activities to build African countries’ capacity to apply WRC-23 decisions related to the fixed and broadcasting satellite services.
“We’re also committed to providing the necessary capacity building support to address spectrum or satellite-related challenges to any Member State that requests it from us,” she added, further affirming that ITU will continue to follow Africa’s spacefaring ambitions closely, keeping a close eye on the growing number of national space programmes – now up to 20.
The ATU additionally honoured individuals  worthy of recognition for their exceptional contributions to these accomplishments. These individuals were integral members of various Task Groups, Coordination Groups, and Experts teams that played a key role in supporting the attainment of the two achievements.
Vice Chairman of Chairman of the ATU Conference of Plenipotentiaries (CPL), Honourable Dr. Bosun Tijani, also the Minister of Communications Innovation and Digital Economy of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, called on African countries to “Speak with one voice,” which he said will help the continent, “move closer to ensuring that conferences and meetings such as the WRC can build consensus faster and more effectively.”
Honourable Dr. Bosun Tijani was representing the Chair of the ATU CPL, Hon. Karim Bibi Triki, Minister of Post and Telecommunications of Algeria.
The forum also celebrated the endorsement of the recovered satellite resources and their inclusion in the ITU resource registers, significant developments achieved during WRC-23.
World radio communication conferences are held every three to four years. It is the job of WRC to review, and, if necessary, revise the Radio Regulations, the international treaty governing the use of the radio-frequency spectrum and the geostationary-satellite and non-geostationary-satellite orbits. Revisions are made on the basis of an agenda determined by the ITU Council, which takes into account recommendations made by previous world radio communication conferences.