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Home : ITU-D : ICT Data and Statistics (IDS)

7th World Telecommunication/ICT Indicators Meeting

Cairo, Egypt, 3-5 March 2009


Opening speech by Sami Al Basheer El Morshid, Director, BDT

H.E. Dr. Tarek Kamel

Minister of Communications & Telecommunications Technology, Egypt

H.E. Mr. Othman Mohamed  Othman

Minister of Economic Development, Egypt


Distinguished delegates,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is my great pleasure to welcome you to the 7th ITU World Telecommunication/ICT Indicators meeting.

This is the first time that we are holding the WTIM outside Geneva and I would like to sincerely thank the Egyptian Government, for hosting this event.

We are holding this meeting as the world is facing a severe recession. The global downturn will particularly pose a challenge for the poor and slow the progress made in the evolution of the global information society and the implementation of the goals set out in the World Summit on the Information Society.

In these difficult times, reliable data become essential to monitor progress and to assess the impact of the crisis. In particular, the monitoring of the digital divide and whether it will increase as a result of the crisis becomes imperative. It is therefore critical to continue producing comparable statistics to provide policy makers with reliable data they can use to monitor their national information society developments.

Latest ITU data show the continued growth in ICT access and use. We are now certain that there has been a clear shift from fixed to mobile cellular telephony and by the end of 2008, there were over three times more mobile cellular subscriptions than fixed telephone lines globally. Two thirds of those are now in the developing world compared with less than half in 2002.

Based on ITU estimates, 23 out of 100 inhabitants globally used the Internet at the end of 2008.  But Internet penetration levels in the developing countries remain low. Africa with 5 per cent penetration is lagging behind. When it comes to broadband penetration, figures are even lower. At the same time, given the rapid spread of IMT-2000/3G mobile cellular networks in many countries, including in the developing world, there is a clear potential for mobile broadband to connect more and more people — and at higher speed.

These are the kind of indicators that are in high demand by policy makers and that need to be continuously updated.

This meeting provides a unique forum for bringing together ICT ministries, telecom regulators and statistical agencies to discuss ICT statistics and their importance for evidence-based ICT policy making.

I am very pleased to see so many participants from all regions in the world. It proves that there is a real need for discussing the measurement of the information society.

Our work on statistics has been facing a challenging time with the increased demand for ICT statistics globally following the World Summit on the Information Society, the increase in telecommunication and Internet services and usage, and the rapid developments in the sector, which require continuous adaptation of the data produced.

The demand for ICT statistics has increased as countries seek to design, monitor and review national policies and strategies to take advantage of the rapid advances in ICT. Since we are dealing with a highly dynamic sector, we need to adapt quickly and review our indicators regularly. Revisions must be made to reflect new trends and to incorporate changes made by the introduction of new technologies. This includes, for example, the phenomenal growth and new technologies in mobile telephony, as well as broadband developments.

Since the last WTIM, which was held in December 2007 in Geneva, ITU has continued to improve and further develop its work on statistics.

I am pleased to announce the launching of two publications at the occasion of this meeting.

The first is the publication “Measuring the Information Society – The ICT Development Index”. This publication features the ITU single index, which has been finalized in consultation with members and subject-matter experts. The publication also includes a new ICT price basket, which measures the affordability of ICT services in countries. I hope that these will be useful tools for our members to benchmark and assess their information society developments and to monitor progress that has been made globally to close the digital divide. After all, it is evidence-based policy making that will have the greatest impact on countries’ efforts to become inclusive information societies.

The second publication is the ITU Manual for Measuring ICT Access and Use by Households and Individuals. This Manual has been prepared to support countries in their efforts to measure and monitor the developments towards becoming information societies. The Manual, which is based on the internationally agreed set of core ICT indicators, is a practical tool for countries to use in the ICT data collection and in preparing ICT household surveys.

You will hear more about these two publications during the coming days.

I am encouraged by the agenda of this year’s meeting, focusing on improving the data collection, in particular through conducting ICT surveys. It becomes increasingly evident that certain data, such as those related to Internet and mobile phone users, need to be collected via national surveys.

It is therefore very encouraging to see that more and more countries have started to collect information on the number of households with access to, and use of, ICTs. We are also seeing increasing cooperation between ICT policy makers, including the regulatory authorities and Ministries, and the National Statistical Offices, in identifying indicators and collecting information. This cooperation is important to combine policy needs with technical expertise.

We are very happy about the cooperation with other international stakeholders to advance the ICT measurement agenda. We continue to work closely with our partners of the Partnership on Measuring ICT for Development and I am very pleased about the participation of several of them in this event.

The BDT is fully committed to strengthen and further develop the work on ICT statistics to better serve the needs of our members and the international community at large. We have filled the post of the Head of the Division and we are planning to allocate more resources to improve the quality and quantity of our statistical and analytical products.

I would like to thank all of you for your support to our work on ICT statistics, in particular through providing data and indicators. Your prompt and continuous support on this will be essential to enhance the effective production, dissemination, and analysis of ICT statistics. This year, the data will be featured, among others, in a series of regional reports that we are preparing as inputs to the discussions in the Regional Preparatory Meetings for the next ITU World Telecommunication Development Conference (WTDC), to be held in 2010.

Let me close by thanking you in advance for your active participation in this WTIM and I look forward to the outcomes of this important meeting.

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