Thank you Mr Weeratunga [Chairman of Sri Lanka’s Telecommunication Regulatory Commission], and let me just reiterate how honoured we are to have you as this year’s GSR Chairman.
Ladies and gentlemen,
ITU, and particularly my own Bureau, the Telecommunication Development Bureau [BDT], does a lot of work behind the scenes to promote global ICT development, through a wide range of expert reports, through on-the-ground projects, and through assistance to our Member States and industry partners.
The Global Symposium for Regulators is one of our more visible activities, and, to my mind, one of our most important.
Regulators are the essential component of the complex market mechanisms that ensure affordable and widespread access to information and communication technologies.
But creating the right regulatory environment for healthy competition and the growth of services has never been more challenging.
New technologies are springing up faster than we can create the policy frameworks to accommodate them. And service innovation is taking place at lightning speed.
This event is vital to the global regulatory community, because it allows the specialists who create the regulations that are so important in shaping today’s and tomorrow’s ICT markets to exchange real-world experiences, building on each other’s successes, and avoiding some of the pitfalls that others may have encountered in what is often uncharted territory.
Because it is dedicated exclusively to those working in ICT regulation – be they heads of national regulatory authorities or Chief Regulatory Officers from the private sector – the Global Symposium for Regulators brings together like-minded professionals who speak the same language.
I believe that is why the discussions at this event are particularly productive. Over the next three days, the experts gathered here from around the world will strive to get to grips with the issues that challenge EVERY regulator – from the world’s most wired markets, to emerging economies and Least Developed Countries.
We are very privileged this year to have as our host one of this region’s most proactive and enlightened regulators.
As you will see from the market overview available in the room as part of your media kit, Sri Lanka was the very first market in the region to introduce 3G mobile broadband, and the very first again to introduce 3.5G fast wireless services.
And Sri Lanka remains in the forefront through early trials of the new LTE networks which will constitute the next wave of wireless broadband.
Together, ITU and TRCSL have a very solid history of collaboration on ICT development projects.
Since 2008, we have been implementing the so-called ‘eNABLE’ project, which provides ICT facilities and training for the empowerment of disabled and marginalized groups in Sri Lanka. This innovative project has been so successful that it has been showcased at several international forums.
We have also worked together on a number of important publications, including roadmaps for the implementation of digital broadcasting and for the roll-out of Next Generation Network technologies, and the comprehensive Case Study of broadband in Sri Lanka, mentioned earlier by Dr Touré.
And since last year, TRCSL and the BDT have been active in implementing a project aimed at getting Sri Lanka’s children and young people online, while at the same time creating local ICT hubs that can benefit whole communities.
Called “Connect a School, Connect a Community”, this project provides computers, printers and Internet connectivity to schools throughout Sri Lanka.
At the same time as developing the ICT skills that will help Sri Lanka’s youth find jobs in the fast-growing technology sector, the project transforms these schools into connected community ICT centres.
Through this innovative approach, local people can benefit from shared access to ICT systems that will help them both personally and professionally, with the added benefit of ICT-literate youngsters who can act as the essential ‘tech support’ that is so often the ‘missing link’ vital to helping get unconnected people online.
Working in partnership with TRCSL, we have already connected 25 schools in the Akuressa district. We are now extending this programme nationwide. An additional 33 primary and secondary schools in all nine national provinces have been targeted, each of which will be provided with access to ICT and broadband Internet connectivity serving over 100 students per school by end 2012.
You can find more information on this project in the Fact Sheet available here in the room, so don’t forget to pick one up before you leave.
On that note, it now gives me great pleasure to hand over to my colleague from TRCSL, Mr Anusha Palpita, to say a few words.
Colombo, Sri Lanka 10/2/2012