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BDT Director's Speeches

African Conference on Internet Governance
Algiers, Algeria  13 February 2017

African Conference on Internet Governance

Algiers, 13 February 2017

Opening address

Mr Brahima Sanou

Director of the Telecommunication Development Bureau (BDT),

International Telecommunication Union

  • Her Excellency, Dr Huda-Imane Faraoun, Minister of Posts and Information and Communication Technologies of Algeria;
  • Your Excellences, distinguished Ministers;
  • Mr Boubacar Traoré, resident representative of the African Bank in Algiers;
  • Your Excellences, high-level representatives of countries and international organizations;
  • Distinguished delegates,

It gives me great pleasure to speak at the opening ceremony of the African Conference on Internet Governance here in Algiers. I would like to thank the Government and people of Algeria for their warm welcome and their African hospitality.

On this important occasion, on behalf of the Secretary-General and the other elected officials of ITU, I would like to commend the initiative and the efforts of the Algerian authorities under the patronage of His Excellency, President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, to organize this African conference.

This testifies to the determination and commitment of Algeria to work ceaselessly with all African countries to ensure that the benefits of the Internet are shared and enjoyed by all the continent's citizens.

Ladies and gentlemen,

When we talk about Africa, we are talking of a continent that is fast developing, where the proportion of the population using the Internet grew from only 2.4 per cent in 2005 to 27.6 per cent at the end of 2016.

We are also talking of a continent where the number of mobile phone subscribers increased six fold between 2005 and 2016, to 83 out of every 100 inhabitants at the end of 2016.

We are talking above all of a continent where much still needs to be done, and where there are also tremendous opportunities.

We are talking, finally, of a continent which, more than any other, needs the Internet to achieve rapid progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), through initiatives in areas such as e-agriculture, e-health, e‑education and e-commerce.

For Africa, the Internet is not a luxury but an essential public asset. That is why this conference is taking place at just the right time as part of the overall process of consultations on the appropriation of the Internet by Africa, and I would like once again to thank the Algerian Government for this initiative.

Distinguished Ministers,

This conference is taking place at a time when we are starting to write a new page in the history of the Internet thanks to the applications associated with it. Big Data, open data, 3D printing and artificial intelligence, are all increasingly becoming essential tools for decision making and management.

The Internet of Things opens up new opportunities, as according to some estimates its economic potential will represent 11 per cent of world GDP in 2025, and 40 per cent of that figure will come from the developing countries.

We are approaching the fourth industrial revolution, which will mean a progressive merger of the physical world, the digital world and the biological world. And unlike the first three revolutions, this one will impact more on who we are than on any changes we make.

Faced with these new challenges, but also, especially, with these tremendous opportunities, all the stakeholders in the ICT ecosystem need to restructure, I would actually say entirely re-cast, their ways of thinking and interacting.

It is important here to reaffirm the unique, carefully considered and fitting role that governments must play, in the interests of all the other stakeholder and to promote world peace and regional and national cohesion.

Africa will answer the call of this future as it is now emerging only if the problem of broadband connectivity is solved, so I am happy to be witness to the establishment, at a side event, of the Liaison Committee for the Trans-Saharan Fibre‑Optic Backbone.

Distinguished participants,

I am here today to express the support of ITU, and especially of the Telecommunication Development Bureau of which I have the honour to be Director, for all African countries in their efforts to bridge the digital divide and enable every African citizen to enjoy the benefits of the digital economy.

To conclude, I would like to thank you once again, Minister, and to express my thanks for the support from the Commission of the African Union and the African Development Bank for this event and the momentum it will create.

I wish this conference every success in its work.

Thank you.