John Omo of Kenya has been elected the new Secretary General of the African Telecommunications Union (ATU), succeeding Abdoulkarim Soumaila of Niger.
To emerge winner, Omo garnered 23 votes beating his sole challenger; Burundi’s Constaque Hakizimana who managed to get two (2) votes at elections held during the 5th Ordinary Session of the ATU Plenipotentiary conference in Nairobi.
(TOP: John Omo, the new ATU secretary general).
In his acceptance speech Omo said he was truly humbled by the trust that the content has bestowed on him to steer the region on the pathway of development of ICTs.
‘‘I am very humbled, and at the same time, honoured and privileged to be entrusted with such a great responsibility that comes with the position of Secretary General of this great Union,’’ said an emotional Omo.
He said his work has been cut out and called on all member states to support him in his quest of rebuilding the ATU and positioning it as the sole united voice on mater of ICT on the continent.
‘‘Work for me begins now. I have shared my vision for ATU with you and I commit to pursue it. I feel encouraged by commitments of Member States as well as the current leadership of this esteemed body,’’ said Omo.
In achieving his new mandate, Omo will be leveraging on the foundation already established by his predecessor Abdoulkarim Soumaila to ensure the continent reaps the massive benefits ICTs present for the region’s socio-economic development.
‘‘I undertake to build on the good work of my predecessor to take this organization to the next level,’’ added Omo.
Thanking the delegates for voting Kenya’s candidate, ICT Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru said Kenya remains on the forefront in supporting the activities of the ATU and will support Omo in his tenure.
‘‘We are humbled by the support you have given to us. We will continue to give support to ATU to see get the dividends of ICT on the continent. We will work together irrespective of how we voted,’’ said Mucheru.
Prior to the elections, Nigeria and the Republic of Congo had also fielded candidates for the post. In Nigeria’s case, the Minister of Communications Barrister Adebayo Shittu withdrew their candidate, Dr. Abubakar Sadiq Hussaini, at the eleventh hour.
The Republic of Congo’s candidate, Dr. Eric Ndoumba, was declared ineligible due to the fact that the country was in arrears in its membership contribution to ATU. Only countries that have honoured their financial obligations to ATU are allowed to vote or field candidates.
Earlier on in voting day, the delegates endorsed Kenya to continue the temporary hosting of the ATU headquarters for the next four years, until a decision is made on the permanent location of the Union’s seat.
The ATU was originally based in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) but was relocated to Kenya in 1999 due to the prevailing political instability. It was expected that the Plenipotentiary Conference would ratify a proposal to have the seat permanently hosted in Kenya, but the DRC put up a spirited push, requesting for more time to prepare to host the seat.
John Omo is a lawyer with over 25 years experience in international legal advisory roles, 18 of which are in the ICT
sector, in Kenya, regionally and globally. He is currently the Director for Legal Services at the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA), the country’s ICT regulator.
In his current capacity, he is responsible for providing strategic leadership over the CA’s legal policies and activities. These include, but are not limited to, provision of expertise; development of legislation; preparation and presentation of national positions at treaty-making, multilateral and bilateral negotiations. He also oversees the implementation of international obligations at the national level.