Ladies and gentlemen, Distinguished colleagues,
It is my pleasure to join you today at this Opening Ceremony of this High Level Conference on the Information Society. I would like to present my deepest gratitude to His Excellency Mr. Genc Polo, Minister for Innovation, Information and Communication Technology, and through him to the Government of the Republic of Albania for convening this meeting. I would like to congratulate also UNDP and RCC for co-organizing this conference.
The 2003 and 2005 outcomes of the World Summit on the Information Society established a comprehensive international framework for building an inclusive information society and clearly recognized the enabling role of ICTs for socio-economic development.
As initiator of the World Summit as well as lead facilitator for its implementation process together UNESCO and UNDP, ITU regularly takes stock of diverse projects and initiatives. In this context we are in the position today to proudly announce that considerable successes have been achieved by several countries, including European ones.
The World Telecommunication Development Conference (WTDC), held in 2010 in Hyderabad, defined global focus of the ITU Development Sector including infrastructure development, enabling environment, cybersecurity, human capacity and ICT applications. The conference also adopted a set of the regional initiatives, including three regional initiatives for Europe, identified by countries of this region, namely:
o Digital broadcasting
o ICT applications, including e-health
o E-accessibility for blind people and people with visual impairment problems
In order to address the challenge of a fast approaching deadline for digitalization of broadcasting systems, ITU together with administrations of Central and Eastern Europe kicked-off the regional initiative with meeting in Hungary earlier this year, defining series of concrete activities to address regional needs for frequency harmonization, digital switch-over and digital dividend.
Similar kick-off is planned for March 2012, to address the e-health initiative. In the meantime our experts have been working on elaboration of background materials, case studies, project documentation, as well as alliance with key partners, including m-Health consortium, World Health Organization, and others.
Regarding the Regional Initiative on e-accessibility for blind people and people with visual impairment problems, our experts have been closely collaborating with administrations of Central and Eastern Europe in order to collect necessary background information and define the scope of activities. We anticipate that draft project document will be circulated among European focal points by the end of the year.
I would like to use this opportunity to make an appeal to all member states and other stakeholders of this Region to contribute to these concrete actions.
Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Broadband is one of the key priorities of the XXI century for the whole world. In this context the ITU and UNESCO established the Broadband Commission for Digital Development in May 2010 to highlight the importance of broadband in helping boost achievement of the MDGs. The Broadband Leadership Summit held in Geneva recently during TELECOM World agreed on Broadband Challenge by setting
four concrete targets towards 2015.
o Making broadband policy universal. By 2015, all countries should have a national broadband plan or strategy or include broadband in their Universal Access / Service Definitions.
o Making broadband affordable. By 2015, entry-level broadband services should be made affordable in developing countries through adequate regulation and market forces (amounting to less than 5% of average monthly income).
o Connecting homes to broadband. By 2015, 40% of households in developing countries should have Internet access.
o Getting people online. By 2015, Internet user penetration should reach 60% worldwide, 50% in developing countries and 15% in LDCs.
Recent ICT Facts and Figures, released by ITU, proved that Europe clearly leads in broadband connectivity, with fixed- and mobile-broadband penetration reaching 26% and 54%, respectively. The list of top 20 broadband economies includes many European countries, including Central Eastern European ones like Slovenia and Estonia. Nevertheless a lot of work needs to be still done.
In this context, enhanced collaboration and coordination amongst policy makers and regulators aimed at generation of concrete actions remains indispensable. Building upon new electronic platform for remote participation BDT will facilitate exchange of experiences and the best practices amongst European countries on regular bases, starting with issue of broadband. First webinar will take place already next week, on 16th November. I am pleased to invite policy makers and regulators to join this virtual meeting.
Moreover starting 2012, BDT will hold every year a Regional Development Forum for Europe. The main objective of this Forum is to establish a close dialogue with the membership. It will be an opportunity to report to you yearly on our work and get your feedback.
Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,
To conclude, I would like to reiterate ITUís commitment towards building an inclusive information society. My presence here today is the expression of my personal commitment to work with you for the achievement of your regional objectives. This region has also accumulated experiences and best practices that could help other developing countries and I would be honored to be the catalyst for such experience sharing.
I look forward to the outcomes of this important meeting that should not only accelerate development of the information society in South Eastern Europe but also become an important contribution to the World Summit on the Information Society process and WSIS Forum 2012 to be held in Geneva from 14-18 May.
I wish you fruitful discussions and thank you for your attention.
Tirana, Albania 11/7/2011