H.E. Dr. Tarek Kamel
Minister of Communications & Telecommunications Technology,
H.E. Mr. Othman Mohamed
Minister of Economic Development, Egypt
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is my great
pleasure to welcome you to the 7th ITU World Telecommunication/ICT
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
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
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
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
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.