Excellency Mr. Aiyaz Sayed-Khanum Minister of Public Enterprises, Communications, Civil Aviation and Tourism of Fiji
Distinguished delegates, Ladies and gentlemen
It is a great pleasure to be here with you in Fiji for the Pacific Broadband Forum 2012. My last visit to the Pacific, to Norfolk Island in April this year for the 16th Annual General Meeting of the Pacific Islands Telecommunications Association, was highly stimulating. I am very glad to be back.
I should like to express our deepest gratitude to Your Excellency Minister Sayed-Khanum and through you to the Government and the people of the Republic of Fiji for the warm welcome and the excellent facilities put at our disposal for this Forum.
I would also like to thank the Forum's co-organisers and partners including: the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation; the Department of Broadband, Communications, and the Digital Economy of the Australian Government; the European Commission; the Pacific Islands Telecommunications Association; the Secretariat of the Pacific Community; and the Pacific ICT Regulatory Resource Centre.
As you can see, this Forum is indeed a multi-stakeholder partnership and I am glad because I truly believe that working in partnership is not only the best way to work, it is also the smartest way to work.
For many of us it is very hard to imagine a life without the Internet, without access to email, online shopping, webcast events, or rolling news from around the world.
But we must not forget that while there are over six billion mobile phone subscriptions globally today, almost two thirds of the world's people are still offline. And being offline today means being denied opportunities.
This is why ITU and UNESCO set up the Broadband Commission for Digital Development in 2010 - to advocate the accelerated broadband rollout globally, and to bring the incredible benefits of being online to all the world's people.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Let us get it right: broadband is not just about infrastructure or high-speed Internet connectivity and accessing faster to more data.
Broadband is a set of transformative technologies which can help ensure sustainable social and economic growth not just in the rich world, but in every country, urban and rural areas, developed and developing countries for this world to become a better place to live. It is therefore not surprising that the importance of ICTs was reflected in the outcome of the Rio+20 Conference on sustainable development.
Broadband is changing the world tremendously. Some of these changes can be predicted, but most of them will come as a complete surprise to all of us. Let me mention a few we can already be sure about:
- 46% of the number of those with moderate or severe disabilities worldwide are aged 60 years and above. The older one is lucky to get the more one is likely to live with some form of disability, and broadband-related services can help overcome these disabilities.
- Almost 50% of the 7 billion people in the world are under 24 years old; almost 20% are between 10 and 19 years of age. The ICT sector has been a major source of employment generation over recent years and the world's two wealthiest persons are from ICT sector.
Broadband related services represent therefore an anchor of hope for these young people across the world. We must make everything possible in order for them to tap into the huge potentials of ITCs.
- Broadband will help us address the biggest issues of our time - such as climate change and environmental sustainability.
- Broadband will revolutionize the way goods and services are created, delivered and used in the digital economy. Let us think about mobile payment that has made the marginalized unbankable people become not only bankable but also economic players.
There are other important benefits that can come but which will need some encouragement. I will mention here two, which I will be actively supporting through targeted initiatives:
- The improvement of emergency communications in order to ensure more effective prevention of disasters and more rapid responses when they strike.
- The unleashing of the forces of youth, entrepreneurship and innovation that is going to lead to a fundamental shift in the orientation of global development.
Distinguished participants ladies and Gentlemen
Smartphone uptake is happening in this region as quickly as the uptake of simple mobile phones. One can safely predict that smartphone penetration will reach 40% to 50% within very few years from now. The high rate of literacy of this region is certainly an important asset and a comparative advantage.
We, at the ITU, are of course passionate about these developments, and especially at the Telecommunication Development Bureau, which I have the privilege to lead, we are delighted that we continue to make such solid progress together with you in our mission to 'Connect the World'.
We just completed with great success the Connect Americas Summit last week on 19 July in Panama City. We are still looking for a country to host Connect Asia Pacific.
In closing let me say how privilege I feel to be contributing with you to the broadband world.
A broadband world - where individuals, rich and poor, are connected to the global knowledge society.
A broadband world - where what matters is human ingenuity, not where you were born, or how wealthy your parents were.
A broadband world - offering sustainable social and economic development for all.
Excellences Ladies and Gentlemen
From the minute I started my remarks till now, 2'128 babies were born out of which 1'912 are from developing countries.
These are the people for whom we are working.
Let us keep up our efforts.