Nigeria’s Communications and Digital Economy Minister, Professor Isa Pantami played the pivotal role in ensuring that Africa won a top level seat on the International Telecommunications Union, ITU Management team.
Spokesperson to Minister, Mrs Uwa Suleiman said in a statement that the keenly contested position of Director of the Union’s Telecommunication Development Bureau, between Africa, the Bahamas and the Middle East which went into a third round of voting, culminated in the emergence of Dr Cosmas Zavazava of Zimbabwe as the winner.
The elections which had hit a gridlock after delegates had voted twice, with none of the candidates hitting the ninety one vote count required to win, was postponed by the President of the Plenary, Mr Sabin Samas, to Monday 3rd October 2022.
Leader of the Nigerian delegation to the ITU Plenipotentiary Conference 2022, Professor Pantami, then took to the floor and protested the postponement which he emphasised, would disenfranchise the continent as the number of eligible voting candidates would be drastically reduced by then, as most would have travelled back to their various countries.
He insisted that the elections be re-conducted in a historic third round of voting.
“It would be unfair to Africa if the elections are postponed as many delegates would have traveled back to their respective bases by Monday. On behalf of Africa, I insist that the elections be re-conducted immediately, so as to give a fair fighting chance to all the candidates and I request that the plenary considers this valid request in the interest of Africa and all concerned,” Professor Pantani said.
After deliberations, the plenary accepted his request and the process was repeated.
Following his request which was greeted with a thunderous ovation by participants, candidates from Gambia, Pakistan, Cameroon, Congo and Zambia withdrew their candidatures, clearing the path for Africa to field a consensus candidate who eventually won the elections.
With this victory, Dr Cosmas Zavazava becomes the only African currently occupying a position on the ITU Management team and a formidable voice for Africa, in driving the digital transformation agenda for the most underserved continent.
It would be recalled that Professor Pantami, Nigeria’s Minister of Communications and Digital Economy has been working to ensure digital inclusion of Africa in global policy affairs, particularly in the sector, since his appointment as Chairman of the World Summit on Information Society, WSIS at the ITU.
The ITU is a specialised organisation of the United Nation, UN. The union meets every four years to elect its Secretary General, Deputy Secretary General and Directors of its three Bureau’s, namely Radio Communications Bureau, Telecommunication Standadisation Bureau and Telecommunications Development Bureau.
Dr Zavazava’s Task
As Director Telecommunications Development Bureau, Dr Zavazava will be responsible for the development arm of the ITU, which facilitates development projects in Developing Countries, Small Island Developing States and Underdeveloped areas of the world.
Prior to this latest appointment, Dr Zavazava was working as Chief of Department, Partnerships for Digital Development in the BDT responsible for strategic partnerships, engagement with industry and private sector, resource mobilization and projects implementation.
He also spent many years working as Chief of Department for Projects and Knowledge Management in the Telecommunication Development Bureau.
Prior to joining ITU, Dr Zavazava served as Head of Zimbabwe Government’s Telecommunication Agency.
Dr Zavazava has worked in the Development Sector of the ITU since 2001. He has over 30 years of experience in telecommunications. He holds impeccable qualifications in telecommunications, business management, law, and international relations.
He also holds a doctorate in multilateral trade who over the years successfully implemented many projects and initiatives, mobilized resources, and negotiated partnerships.