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GSR-14, Opening speech (English)
03 June 2014
Your Highness, Sheikh Ali bin Khalifa Al Khalifa, Deputy Premier, deputized to represent the Patron of this GSR-14 in the Kingdom of Bahrain,
Distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen,
It is my great pleasure to welcome you to the 14th annual Global Symposium for Regulators, here in Manama, the first city to be selected as Capital of Asian Tourism 2014.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank His Royal Highness, Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Bahrain, for his patronage and His Highness Sheikh Ali bin Khalifa Al Khalifa, Deputy Premier, for attending this opening ceremony. I would also like to thank His Excellency Sheikh Fawaz Bin Mohamed Bin Khalifa Al Khalifa, Minister of State for Telecommunications Affairs, for his support and His Excellency Dr Mohammed Al Amer, Chairman of the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority and his team, for making this event possible.
As Dr Touré mentioned, 2014 marks fifteen years of existence of the Global Symposium for Regulators. Throughout the years, GSR has continued to bring together the world's largest gathering of regulators. It has become a unique platform to share best practices on major issues facing the ICT sector and to further sustainable development through tracking the changing ICT regulatory environment.
And, needless to say, technological advances have continued to shape the ICT sector, probably at a speed no one could have ever predicted.
15 years ago, mobile subscriptions totaled 738 million representing a 12 per cent penetration rate worldwide. In least developed countries there were only 2 million subscribers, representing a 0.3 per cent penetration rate.
Mobile broadband wasn't even provided.
The numbers of today's digital world speak for themselves.
According to our newly released ITU ICT data for 2014, the number of mobile subscriptions will reach almost 7 billion by the end of 2014, corresponding to a penetration rate of 96 per cent, showing a tenfold increase over the past 15 years.
The number of subscriptions in LDCs is has reached 540 million, representing a penetration rate of 59 per cent.
By the end of this year, the number of mobile-broadband subscriptions will reach 2.3 billion globally, almost 5 times as many as in 2008.
Let's not forget that behind these statistics are real human stories. The stories of people who, nowadays, are able to use mobile devices as their daily tools of communication, data transfer and much more.
In this scenario, the goal of Governments is to spearhead innovation and investment and to protect the rights of users by encouraging the development of modern and effective regulatory tools.
Distinguished Delegates Ladies and Gentlemen
It is not by coincidence that the overarching theme of this year's edition of GSR is "Capitalizing on the potential of the digital world".
Consumers today increasingly have to deal with new issues brought about by new technologies, new devices, new online services and applications which affect consumers' behaviors.
In a globalized, interconnected and increasingly complex environment, consumer education and empowerment are critical for users to fully benefit from the potential of the digital world.
This should be our top priority because as former US President John F. Kennedy once said "Consumers by definition, include us all."
Here we are today, at this 2014 edition of GSR, to ensure that the benefits of the digital world are brought to all citizens in an informed, responsive and safe manner.
This can only be achieved through effective and smart regulation targeted at empowering consumers, redefining responsibilities and creating the conditions for a data driven economy to flourish.
What are the opportunities and challenges of big data?
What are best practices in the area of consumer protection?
How do we meet the demand for capacity, and the demand for more spectrum?
How do we monitor the implementation of broadband plans and carry out regulatory impact assessments?
These are some core issues that have to be addressed in a digital world.
The Dubai Declaration, adopted at the WTDC, clearly spells out that policy-makers and regulators should continue to promote widespread, affordable access to ICTs through fair, transparent, stable, predictable and non-discriminatory enabling policy and regulatory environments.
Our goal is to promote competition, increase consumer choices, foster continued technological and service innovation and provide investment incentives.
This is why we are here today.
I now look forward to a fruitful discussion and I thank you for your attention.
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