Chairman of TCRA, Judge Buxton Chipeta
Director General of TCRA, Prof. John Nkoma
Guests of Honour
Distinguished colleagues and friends,
Ladies and gentlemen,
It gives me great pleasure to speak to you today at the start of this
commemoration of World Telecommunication and Information Society Day (WTISD) and
bring greetings from Secretary-General Hamadoun Touré.
The day is celebrated annually to mark the contribution information and
communication technologies (ICTs) make to the world’s social and economic
The date of 17 May marks the signing of the first International Telegraph
Convention in 1865 and the establishment of the ITU.
This year, ITU’s 146th anniversary, we focus our attention on the world’s rural
communities in our quest to connect the remotest corners of the globe to the
benefits delivered by ICTs.
It is very appropriate therefore to celebrate the day his year in Tanzania – a
country where the vast majority of the population live in rural areas.
In fact, half the world’s population resides in rural districts and far flung
communities. This half — three billion people — represent the poorer, less
educated, and more deprived cousins of our urban citizens. They are also among
the least connected to the benefits of ICTs. We cannot allow this situation to
ICTs are recognised as increasingly important in meeting the Millennium
In the rural context, ICTs provide enhanced opportunities to generate income and
combat poverty, hunger, ill health and illiteracy. ICTs are key instruments in
improving governance and rural services, such as providing community health
care, safe drinking water and sanitation, education, food and shelter; improving
maternal health and reducing child mortality; empowering women and the more
vulnerable members of society; and ensuring environmental sustainability.
Recent events in North Africa and the Middle East have also highlighted the
catalytic role that mobile phones and social media can play in galvanizing
And in the aftermath of natural disasters that have struck with greater
frequency and force, we have seen how these technologies are a vital part of aid
response, establishing lines of communication that can save lives, reunite
families and help emergency relief reach people in need.
ITU is committed to connecting the world.
ITU through its three Sectors develops the international standards for ICTs to
ensure interoperability, manages the vital spectrum and orbital resources,
mobilizes the necessary technical, human and financial resources, and
strengthens emergency response in the aftermath of devastating natural
disasters. We have many projects around the world and have worked with TCRA on
conformity and interoperability which I will talk about later, and our
Development Bureau has a pilot project here on connecting schools.
We have begun work on technical standards for sustainable rural communications
which I very much hope Tanzania will be able to contribute to. And we are
putting much emphasis on the need to enhance broadband access and establish the
information and communication highways — networks that will feed both rural
communities and urban centres with the means to meet their development goals and
This is why Secretary-General Hamadoun Touré took the initiative to form the
Broadband Commission for Digital Development which is aimed at raising awareness
of the importance of the roll out of broadband at the highest policy and
I am proud that this roll out is based on ITU technical standards that provide
state-of-the-art broadband technology that can firmly establish a universally
accessible knowledge-based information society.
So Ladies and Gentlemen,
People around the world will celebrate World Telecommunication and Information
Society Day this year by focusing on connecting people in rural areas and
allowing them to harness the full potential of ICTs.
Let me end by quoting Mr Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary-General:
“As we bridge the digital divide, we narrow the chasm that separates those with
and without access to information and knowledge, thereby broadening
opportunities for a better life. Greater access means earlier achievement of the
Millennium Development Goals. It means less poverty and hunger, and more
environmental sustainability. And it translates into greater equality and
empowerment for women and the underprivileged.
On this World Telecommunication and Information Society Day, let us resolve to
connect rural communities and the entire world to the digital revolution as a
means of achieving our development goals and fostering peace and prosperity for
I am sure we all support these words. I wish you all a very successful and
enjoyable ICT week to commemorate the World Telecommunication and Information
Society Day, as we re-dedicate ourselves to bringing a better life in rural
communities with ICTs.