Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is my great pleasure to welcome you to the Multi-Stakeholders Meeting of the Connect Americas Summit.
At the outset let me express our deepest gratitude to the government and the people of Panama for the warm welcome, the hospitality and the outstanding facilities put at our disposal for this Summit.
Ladies and Gentlemen
We are here today because we are all driven by a common purpose, shared vision and converged goals.
This multi-stakeholder meeting provides a platform for ICT projects promotion and partnership building that will lead to concrete actions to make the all-important difference. This is a unique opportunity for us to get tangible results from the 82 projects submitted to this Summit, that together amount to $53.4 billion dollars of market opportunities.
These projects, when implemented, will certainly add momentum to the success stories of the Americas region in terms of ICT infrastructure and services. For instance, international Internet bandwidth in Latin America and the Caribbean region has increased more than twelve-fold over the last five years, reaching 4’700 Gbit/s by the end of 2011.
The Americas is the region where the percentage of households with Internet access increased the most in 2011, reaching 51% of households with Internet access by end 2011, which is well above the world’s average (34%).
In 2011, average mobile-cellular penetration surpassed the 100% threshold in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Things can only get better.
I may add that this meeting is not an end in itself -- it is the beginning of a process, a journey, towards the Knowledge Society destination. Let us travel together!
Distinguished Guests, Ladies and gentlemen
We are all in agreement that ICTs provide unlimited opportunities to foster greater competitiveness, new economic growth and job creation, and better access to basic services such as health and education. To tap into these opportunities the key word and the key action is partnership, and this is what this Summit is all about. I would therefore like to urge you all to seize this opportunity and build new partnerships.
Partnerships where Governments continues to provide the liberalized, pro-competitive and pro-investment policy and regulatory framework that ICT needs.
Partnerships where industry can build and operate telecommunication/ICT Networks and expand access to ICT services.
Partnerships where young innovators become entrepreneurs.
Partnership where Governments, the private sector, banking institutions and multilateral organizations work together to achieve sustainable development through ICTs.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
No one organization can by itself address the issue of ICTs and no organization has unlimited resources. I am glad to say that the ITU is ideally placed to facilitate partnership building. This is because of its global and all-inclusive membership, and its core mandate, that is directed at spearheading the development of telecommunications networks and services globally.
In concluding, I am pleased to inform you that we have already been approached by a number of partners who shall be making announcements on Thursday to inform the Summit of their contributions aimed at implementing projects submitted to the Connect Americas Summit.
If you wish to make an announcement on Thursday, please let us know so that we may provide you with a slot. Further, at the end of this multi-stakeholders meeting, rooms shall be made available for the entire duration of the Summit, to be used for bilateral meetings project owners and development partners.
Finally, I end with a message of hope: The time is right and the environment is ripe for this region to unlock economic potential through ICTs.
Together, let us do it!
I thank you.
Panama City, Panama 7/17/2012