Minister Vinenç Alay Ferrer, Minister for Territorial Planning, Environment and Agriculture, Andorra
Mr Houlin Zhao, Deputy Secretary-General of the International Telecommunication Union
Mr Jaume Salvat Font, CEO of Andorra Telecom
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is with much pleasure that I address you this morning on the occasion of this important preparatory meeting towards
WTDC-10. This event constitutes an important step in our preparations for the next World Telecommunication Development Conference (WTDC), to be held from 24 May to 4 June 2010 in Hyderabad, India. Let me take this opportunity to express my sincere appreciation to the Government of Andorra for hosting this Regional Preparatory Meeting for Europe and extending to all the participants a very warm welcome.
The WTDC-10 is a landmark, global conference which provides our Members and other stakeholders with an opportunity to assess the progress that has been made since we met in Doha in 2006 for the last World Telecommunication Development Conference, and met in Geneva and Tunis for the World Summit on the Information Society. The world has seen many changes since then including a financial crisis that has affected all the world’s regions, countries, private sector entities, and individuals. New telecommunications providers have emerged as was clearly demonstrated at the recently concluded ITU World TELECOM 2009. New telecommunication networks, devices, and services have also entered the market place bringing better choice and new opportunities for all.
I thank all the Administrations that have submitted their contributions to this meeting and invite all of you to embrace this opportunity and get your voice heard. We cannot let this opportunity to shape the future slip away. By the way, there is no contribution that is too small to make a difference. When idea flow freely, as I hope they will, we normally end up with a shared vision and tangible outputs that can help us all to get good results at the WTDC. I hope that you will use this opportunity to identify and adopt a list of needs and priorities for this region, and even go beyond to look at global issues that may help shape the global ICT landscape which can help the world develop and reduce poverty.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The influence and leadership of the European region in promoting universal access is in no doubt. This region has for a long time developed as well as embraced new technologies before many other regions.. It was the first region to adopt a uniform standard for mobile telephony in the early ‘90s, and to introduce next- generation mobile networks in 2000. Internet usage and fixed and mobile broadband uptake have increased significantly during the past few years. Today, the European market, with around ten per cent of the global population, accounts for more than 18 per cent of the world’s mobile cellular subscriptions, 21 per cent of fixed telephone lines, 22 per cent of Internet users, and 31 per cent of both fixed broadband subscribers and mobile broadband subscriptions. The majority of European countries has surpassed the 100 per cent mobile penetration mark, and close to two out of three Europeans are using the Internet. According to the ITU’s latest ICT Development Index (IDI), 5 out of the top 6 countries are European. Europe has the highest number of mobile broadband users, and the penetration of fixed broadband users stands at 200 per 1000 inhabitants. Of course, other regions such as Asia and the Pacific are making good progress in broadband uptake.
I am ready, and so is my team to work with you all and take the experiences of this region to other region so that ICT can become a truly globalizing engine of our times. There is no doubt that our work within this region has been an interesting experience and a successful one, for that matter. We have worked with this region in various areas to include the introduction of new technologies through the many case studies that we prepared on the transition from analogue to digital broadcasting with countries such as Bulgaria, Croatia, Macedonia, Slovenia, Serbia, Germany, Poland and Hungary. A number of workshops were delivered in cooperation with selected training institutions under our Centre of Excellence project. We also had two key events: the Regional Development Forum for EUR and the CIS Region, and ITU Seminar and Ministerial Roundtable on the Switchover from Analogue to Digital Broadcasting. The other areas that have been prominent in our work with this region have been in emergency telecommunications and climate change, as well as, in Cyber-security. As you might already know, An ITU-IMPACT Global Response Centre (CRC)/Computer Incident Response Team (CIRT) Lite project will be launched early 2010 in Romania, Montenegro, Serbia and Poland. A number of cooperation agreements were signed between governments and private sector entities, and the ITU leading to the successful implementation of joint projects and activities.
I count on the support that this region has provided to ITU and the Development Sector over the years. Most recently, the presence and active participation of countries from this region at the Global Syposium for Regulators and the Global Industry Leaders Forum 2009, held in Beirut, was excellent. It is this kind of participation and contribution that has contributed to the excellent results that we achieved, particularly regarding the best practices guidelines on innovative regulatory approaches in a converged world. These guidelines will strengthen the foundations of a global Information Society. Earlier on, I referred to the many agreements that we have concluded with partners from this region. This of course includes the large scale projects on harmonization of ICT policies in Africa, and Caribbean. I have to recognize also the Human Capacity building initiative in the Pacific Islands, which we are carrying out in partnership with the European commission, as well as a Center of excellence project for Spanish and Portuguese speaking countries funded jointly by Spanish and Portuguese governments. Two more projects on the Establishment of National Internet Exchange points in Africa are funded by the Spanish Government. The host country, Andorra, was also kind enough to financially support one of the BDT project on rural communications for some countries forming part of the Pacific islands and also provided broadcasting equipment. GTZ from Germany is also one of our project partners in Africa. The limited time does not permit me to mention all our partners. Please know that your efforts are very much appreciated by the BDT and the beneficiary countries.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
To conclude, I would like to thank our hosts once again for this wonderful venue provided to us in which we can discuss and work. In particular I would like to express my sincere appreciation to Mr. Jaume Salvat Font for all his excellent and tireless hard work in the coordination of our event. I invite you to fully participate in this event and identify priority areas that could guide us in our development work for four years beyond 2010. I am confident that the outcome of this RPM as well as outcomes of the rest of the RPMS held or yet to be held in other regions will make a significant contribution to WTDC-10 and to our future efforts to make ICT universally accessible and useful to all.
Andorra la Vella, Andorra 12/1/2009