Committed to connecting the world

ICTs for a Sustainable World #ICT4SDG

BDT Director's Speeches

ITU Telecom '15 Leadership Summit
Budapest, Hungary  12 October 2015

ITU TELECOM'15 LEADERSHIP SUMMIT

CONNECTIVITY GOALS: THE REALITY OF REACHING EVERYONE BY 2020 – AND WHY IT MATTERS SO MUCH

OPENING REMARKS BY MR. BRAHIMA SANOU

DIRECTOR, TELECOMMUNICATION DEVELOPMENT BUREAU

INTERNATIONAL TELECOMMUNICATION UNION

Your Excellences, Ministers and industry leaders here present,
Distinguished panelists and participants,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It my great pleasure to set the scene for the important issue of connectivity to be discussed by the panel and the participants at this session.

We are gathered here today because we truly believe that the ICT sector has become the main driver for sustainable development and that the attainment of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals will rely heavily on the digital ecosystem.

We are also here today because we all recognize that for digital opportunities to fully materialize, we need, now more than ever, to embrace innovative approaches to policy, regulation and service provision.

We also know that digital economy is about broadband and broadband enabled-services because broadband and secure connection to the Internet through smartphones, tablets, and new online services, have dramatically changed the way we live, interact and do business. This cannot happen without connectivity.

So, connectivity is key and remains a big challenge. We all know that despite the 7.2 billion mobile subscriptions worldwide, 4 billion people still don’t have to access the Internet which is the public good of the digital economy.

Rural and remote areas remain largely unconnected to the Internet as they face challenges of attracting private sector investment. The absence of regional connectivity between Small Island Developing States, between countries with access to submarine cables and landlocked countries, and the scarcity of cross-border backbone links is causing an access gap.

We also know and we all agree that affordability is a very important issue.

With all this in mind and looking at Broadband through the prism of the future, one could venture in following assumptions in terms of global trend infrastructure development and consumer behavior

First, as a global trend, the landscape of policy, regulation and service provision have changed and will continue to change because we are living in an era of convergence of telecom/ICT infrastructure, services and service providers. We are witnessing the emergence of new players without any regulatory or infrastructure legacy. We are also witnessing the displacement of revenues and changes in business models for service provision.

The telecom/ICT industry will continue to broaden and diversify, but most importantly it will continue to change more and more rapidly. We are living in a sector where no matter what time you go to bed, when you wake up your first question should be what has changed when I was sleeping? The second question should be what must I do to remain relevant?

Second, on the infrastructure side, we will have a combination of optical fiber, satellites and alike for backbone infrastructure. We should make sure that these technologies complement each other.

Mobile access, including satellite mobile, will be the first way to access broadband. 4G access technology, and soon 5G, will put unprecedented computing power in the palm of our hands.

The development of broadband in developing countries will heavily depend on the usage of broadband-enabled services for provision of basic services such as e-government, e-health, e-education, e-agriculture and e-commerce.

Cybersecurity will continue to be a big challenge as we embark on the Internet of everything where we continue to connect men-to-machine and machine-to-machine.

Third, on the consumer side, there is an ever-expanding variety of services and applications to serve our social, business and entertainment needs.

We will move from owning infrastructure and devices to the usage of them. We will be more inclined to pay for the usage than for the ownership. We will rely more and more on cloud computing.

The feeling of freedom of expression and interaction with an unlimited number of people in cyberspace will continue to outweigh the issue of privacy for the younger generations that are known as digital natives. It will be interesting to see how the debate on privacy will look like 20 years from now.

Ladies and gentlemen,

In order to transform these challenges to opportunities we need to put in place new policy and regulatory frameworks that will embrace the new ICT ecosystem. For example, ICT regulation is not enough to regulate e-Health, e-education or e-banking. We need to move from vertical regulation to collaborative regulation.

Capacity building will continue to be an issue. It is estimated that in the near future 95% of the decent work will require ICT skills. This is a common challenge of the ICT ecosystem to be addressed particularly in developing countries.

Partnerships will be key to any and every success. We need to extend the public private sector partnership to include all stakeholders and build cross-sectoral partnerships.

For all this to happen, all stakeholders, governments, regulators, telecom/ICT operators and service providers, consumers, academia and civil society need to change the way they interact with each other in order to create a new environment and a new deal.

I would like to thank the ITU team for putting together a truly multistakeholder panel that will help us to build the foundation of this new deal.

As I hand over to the moderator Mr. Andy Haire, I would like to leave you with this. The future of the ICT sector is bright but in order to tap into the full potential of ICTs, all the players and stakeholders of the ICT ecosystem need to not only think innovation, but more importantly to innovate their way of thinking.

Thank you very much.