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WELCOME ADDRESS
DR HAMADOUN I. TOURÉ
SECRETARY-GENERAL
INTERNATIONAL TELECOMMUNICATION UNION
OPENING CEREMONY OF ITU TELECOM AFRICA 2008
11 May 2008

Dear Guests, Your Excellencies,

It is with great emotion that I address this audience today, as Secretary General of the ITU, on the occasion of ITU TELECOM AFRICA 2008. Indeed, this Event is the first TELECOM that I organize since I took charge.

I would like to share with you the particular context and the vision which justify our presence today.

When the new ITU management team took charge in January 2007 under my leadership, we agreed on three main objectives for our mandate:

To work with all our partners to Bridge the Digital Divide; - To Create a Global Alliance on Cybersecurity; and - Put together a program of emergency communications to save lives in case of natural disasters.

To reach these objectives essential conditions had to be created for regions such Africa where eliminating the digital divide would catalyze development.

To this end, ITU designed a strategy to accelerate the end of the digital divide, in cooperation with the African Union, United Nations, World Bank, African Development Bank, the Global Alliance for ICT and Development, as well as several operators, foundations and private sector companies in the field of ICTs.

ITU TELECOM AFRICA 2008 is in my view a fundamental step in this strategy, since this is the first meeting after the Summit of Heads of State and Governments that took place in Kigali in October last year on the Connect Africa initiative. This is the first time where all stakeholders of our strategy will meet and network, representing all private and public sector decision makers of the global ICT industry.

Our program is ambitious, although realistic. It aims at creating a win-win public/private partnership between African countries, national and international companies and civil society, with a view to connect all African cities and villages between 2008 and 2012.

At the Kigali Connect Africa Summit, partners in the initiative pledged 55 billion US Dollars to fund the investments needed so that our continent bridge the digital divide within this timeframe. Governments committed themselves towards capacity building and training, policy and regulatory reform to attract investments. And I challenge the industry, to explore the many opportunities that are available across the continent, and which will be on display during this week.

This is why ITU TELECOM AFRICA 2008 must be a success.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I appeal to you so that our meeting in Cairo becomes a decisive milestone in our commitment to connecting the world. This is an exciting challenge and we must commit to it, in the presence of the Youth Fellows, the leaders of the new generations. We are working for them.

Together and before 2012, let’s forge the tools that ICTs can provide to the other sectors of the economy and of the society, such as health, education, business, agriculture, government services, and others.

We offer the full strength of the ITU and of its 191 Members States and over 700 Sector Members from the Private Sector.

With our joint success, we will have created the framework within which reaching the Millenium Development Goals by 2015 will be a reality.

Together, with a shared vision, we can succeed. And I am optimistic, so I know we will.

I thank you for your kind attention.