Ladies and gentlemen,
On behalf of the ITU and my own behalf I would like to welcome you to this session entitled "ICTs as an Enabler for Development of LDCs". As we know Millennium Development Goals are a big challenge for LDCs. This event is timely as the Fourth United Nations Conference for the LDCs has just ended in Istanbul, Turkey where ITU actively participated and submitted a number of commitments that we will implement during the decade 2011 -2020.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
New information and communication technologies (ICTs) have become critical enablers for sustained human development. There are many examples as to how ICTs have contributed to eradicate poverty, bring to the most vulnerable and marginalized populations basic services for the first time in history, and giving them voice in governance processes.
Increasingly, LDCs are reaping the benefits of the rapid diffusion of new technologies. In particular, the unprecedented explosive growth of mobile communications has reached millions of previously unconnected communities and people. This has mainly been due to improved political stability, the low-cost and ease of use of wireless technologies, and an open and competitive environment in the sector.
Let me share with you my views on what I believe to be the role of information and communication technologies in development:
• ICT are increasingly influencing political, social, economic, and cultural developments in this globalized world.
• ICT play a key catalytic role in helping other sectors contribute to the development agenda in line with their mandates.
• ICT can help eradicate extreme poverty and create wealth. Let us bear in mind that the first two wealthiest persons in the role are from ICT sector and that ICT have been by very far the greatest job creation sector in developing world over the past decade.
• ICT can help achieve universal primary education, promote gender equality and empower women, improve maternal health, reduce child mortality, combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases, ensure environmental sustainability and develop a global partnership for development.
• ICT can reduce the vulnerability of countries to natural disasters and enhance social inclusion of people in rural areas and special groups such as people with disabilities, women and children.
As you can see ICT have got huge transformational potentials. To harness effectively these potentials for development we need:
1. To pool resources to finance large-scale ICT projects that can make an impact on the ground and speed up the journey towards the creation of a people-oriented Information Society;
2. to include ICT in national and regional poverty-reduction strategies and plans;
3. To assist LDCs in creating transparent, predictable and pro-competitive policy and regulatory frameworks to further universal access to ICT with digital inclusion for all;
4. to strengthen the human and institutional capacity of LDCs in order for them to maximize the utilization of appropriate new technologies for the development of ICT infrastructure and services;
5. To support LDCs in improving access to ICT applications and services which could contribute to economic and social development, especially in underserved rural areas;
6. To create trust and confidence in the use of ICT including cybersecurity to protect countries and individuals against cyberthreats and cybercrime;
7. To develop inclusive public private people partnership building on their comparative advantages and avoiding duplication.
These are the areas where ITU is focussing on through its programme, the Broadband Commission among others, because we strongly believe that ICT can accelerate the attainment of the MDGs, particularly in the least developed countries
To conclude I would like to urge all stakeholders to forge people-oriented partnerships and bring ICT at the centre of sustainable development.