Excellences Ambassadors and Ministers,
CEOs of Private Sector and Development Agencies
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is a great privilege to deliver introductory remarks to our three high-level interactive panels. It is also with great pleasure, appreciation and gratitude; appreciation because of the hospitality extended to all of us by our host, Panama; gratitude because of the commitment from the region reflected by the level and number of participants.
Panama is not only the “place of abundant fish" as we all learnt in our history lessons at school but also the home of warm welcoming people and the home of the Eighth Wonder of the world, the Panama Canal.
The Panama Canal connects the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. Could we have a better place to Connect Americas and the world at large? Thank you Panama for offering us this opportunity.
Excellences, Distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen
This morning we heard thoughtful and important reflections on the role of ICTs and the opportunities ICTs present for the countries up and down this great continent. We were blessed by the vision of President Martinelli of Panama and the message of hope and commitment for a bright future from President Chinchilla of Costa Rica among others.
We all agree that the potential of broadband networks to help deliver efficiently core public services such as health, education and good governance remains under-exploited. With improvements in technology and reductions in cost, ensuring affordable broadband access will be regarded as being as vital to social and economic development as ensuring access to the transport, water and power networks that most of us now take for granted. It is crucially important that no country in this continent is left behind.
We are fortunate indeed to benefit this afternoon and tomorrow from the collective wisdom of three very distinguished groups of panellists, all of whom have vast experience and diverse perspectives on how to address the challenges of implementing innovative national broadband strategies, and of encouraging entrepreneurs to create and deploy innovative applications that serve community needs, among others.
Drawing on their rich, and indeed, extensive experience, they will guide us in exploring collective answers to the following core questions:
• What are the key features of an effective strategy for funding broadband rollout?
• How does the role of government as facilitator and lead-partner evolve during the implementation process?
• What are the bottlenecks, and how can they best be overcome?
• What are the key features of successful strategies to promote universal access to broadband?
• How should we redefine the Universal Service in a broadband and converged word and what could be the new objective of a Universal Service fund?
• How can we take better advantage of ICTs to improve public safety, for example in the context of natural disasters, to empower persons with disabilities, to create a new generation of young entrepreneurs?
• How do we strengthen the human face of ICT and show to the world that ICT is not only about hardware and software, but about people.
At this point, let me share with you in advance my thoughts as Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau.
First, I believe that broadband infrastructure is critical in laying the foundation of a Knowledge Society; hence collective efforts should be made to build it.
Second, I recognize that infrastructure alone is not enough to lead us to sustainable development. We therefore need the right policies, regulations and legal framework that will open doors to new ICT applications and services such as e-business, m-banking, e-health, e-education, and e-environment.
Third, I know from experience, as you do, that partnership is the glue that holds everything together.
Indeed, the ITU’s ability to forge creative partnerships is at the heart of three initiatives that I look forward to launching over coming months:
The first initiative is called m-Powering People. We have more than 6.3 billion mobile subscribers, including in rural and remote areas. The objective of this initiative is to capitalize on the availability and rooting of the mobile networks to strengthen economic positions of individuals and communities, and to enable governments to provide basic services such as education and health at unbeatable costs.
The second initiative, entitled Smart Sustainable Development Model aimed at establishing a close link between emergency telecommunications and sustainable development, by creating a mechanism by which excess satellite capacity could be to leased at very competitive prices to individuals or communities to deliver commercially viable services to communities. In compensation, these individuals will be trained and will become the first rescuers immediately available whenever a natural disaster strikes.
The third initiative is about youth, innovation and entrepreneurship because I am convinced that the combination of forces represented the youth, entrepreneurship and innovation will lead to a fundamental shift in the orientation of global development.
These initiatives are of course open for partnership and I look forward to discussing them with interested parties.
In closing, I would like to share my confidence that for every challenge that we face, there is in this room at least one pioneer who has already embarked on the first steps towards a solution: let us all benefit by sharing our perspectives.
Finally, let me address to you a challenge on what I believe to be the key success factor of the Summit. Please ask yourself at the end of each panel session the following question: “What two or three new ideas did I get out of this and what must I do to put them in motion in order to improve my life, that of my family, my community, my country, my region and the world at large?”.
Panama City, Panama 7/18/2012