Ladies and Gentlemen,
Good afternoon and welcome to the launching of ITUís Measuring Information Society Report.
It is with much pleasure that we have invited you here to share with us very exciting news on very positive achievements and trends in the information and communication technology sector.
You will all recall that in 2003 and 2005, under the auspices of the United Nations Secretary General, ITU organized the World Summit on the Information Society and set targets to be reached by the year 2015. That year remains significant because it is the same year for countries to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.
So, how is the sector performing? Is there a positive sign that the global information society is emerging? The answer is YES! The global information society is growing very fast, and Goal 8 on ICT is the most advanced of all the MDGs. In fact, ICT has emerged as the catalyst to socio-economic growth and an underlying sector boosting hope to other sectors to hit their MDGs targets by 2015. A key feature of the report we are launching today is the ICT Development Index which ranks 152 countries according to their level of ICT access, use and skills, and compares 2008 and 2010 scores.
As clearly shown in this report, the mobile miracle is making a huge difference across the globe with 90% of the world population having coverage. To ice the cake, mobile broadband is emerging as a technology of choice with over 150 countries having launched the service. This fits with our strategy and vision of promoting universal access to broadband technology. You all have probably contributed to the launch and the ongoing work of the Broadband Commission for Digital Development, launched in May 2010 by the International Telecommunication Union and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am sure you would like to know what accounts for the rapid increase in teledensity, Internet penetration, broadband, and roll-out of ICT services and applications. On our part, we have taken measures and actions which have certainly contributed to this burst in the ICT sector. However, we credit countries for adopting policies, legal instruments, and regulations that have attracted investment into the sector. Some of the key initiatives that we have taken include the launch of the Connect the world series of activities which attracted the attention and participation of Heads of State and Government, industry leaders, development partners, international organizations and the private sector.
During my tenure as Regional Director for Africa, I had the privilege of spearheading, on behalf of ITU the organization and holding of the Connect Africa Summit in 2007 which resulted in the mobilization of over 55 billion dollars for the ICT sector in Africa. A similar event was later held in 2008 in the CIS region. Building on this success, we will hold the Connect Arab States Summit in Qatar in March 2012 and the Connect Americas in Panama in July 2012.
The outcome of such events has resulted in massive infrastructure development by the private sector with win-win outcomes: market access and return on investment on the part of the private sector and national development on the part of countries.
ITU, of course, plays a match-making role and executes projects on behalf of countries. The confidence that countries have in our work is demonstrated by the number of projects that they request ITU to implement on their behalf through 100% funding from the beneficiary country or co-financing between ITU and the beneficiary country and then other funding mechanisms. On this note, I am pleased to inform you that, I signed two weeks ago an $8-million project financed by Brazil that entrusted ITU to implement Brazil national projects.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
In answering the question why we are witnessing growth in the ICT Sector as demonstrated by the MIS Report we are launching today, I should add that an enabling environment plays a pivotal role. For over a decade, ITU has been working with telecommunication/ICT regulators to ensure that sound regulation is put in place to drive ICT growth.
Annually, ITU runs the Global Symposium for Regulators to allow world regulators to share experiences and to debate smart regulation in an era of emerging smart technologies. Next week, we will be holding the 2011 Global Symposium for Regulators in Colombia and we are very excited. Excited, because, this event is a unique high-level platform to foster constructive exchange of information among national regulatory authorities and key ICT stakeholders on the most important and pressing regulatory subjects. To keep with market trends, this year the GSR will focus on "Smart Regulation for a Broadband World". In order to promote dialogue between industry and the regulators, the fourth Global Industry Leaders Forum will be held back to back with GSR.
We are heading for exciting times and the future is certainly bright. As someone who is passionate about development, I could go on and on but let me stop here in order to give room for my two colleagues here to give short presentations on our measuring the Information Society Report and on the upcoming Global Symposium for Regulators and Global Industry Leaders Forum.
I thank you.
Geneva, Switzerland 9/15/2011