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BDT Director's Speeches

15th edition of the Global Symposium for Regulators
Libreville, Gabon  09 June 2015

Global Symposium for Regulators

LIBREVILLE, GABON, 9-11 JUNE 2015

Opening speech by Mr Brahima Sanou

Director, Telecommunication Development Bureau (BDT)

  • His Excellency Mr Séraphin Moudounga, Minister of Justice, representing His Excellency the Prime Minister of Gabon, Professor Daniel Ona Ondo,
  • His Excellency Mr Pastor Ngoua N'neme, Minister of the Digital Economy and Posts,
  • Mr Jean-François Ndongou, President of the National Communication Council,
  • Mr Lin Mombo, President of the Regulatory Authority for Electronic Communications and Posts,
  • Monsieur Abdoulkarim Soumaila, Secretary-General of the African Telecommunications Union,
  • Dr Hamadoun Touré, former Secretary-General of the International Telecommunication Union,
  • Presidents and Directors-General from regulatory authorities, regulators' associations and the private sector,
  • Your Excellences, members of governments,
  • Honourable and distinguished members of parliament,
  • Municipal authorities of Libreville and the Commune of Akanda,
  • Distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen,

It is a great honour for me to bid you welcome to the 15th edition of the Global Symposium for Regulators, here in Libreville, Gabon, a country whose President, His Excellency Mr Ali Bongo Ondimba, has committed to providing Gabon with a first-class ICT infrastructure that will serve as the driver of "service-oriented Gabon".

On this special occasion, I should like to take the opportunity to express our very profound gratitude to His Excellency Mr Ali Bongo Ondimba for his distinguished patronage of GSR 2015.

Your Excellency Mr Minister for Justice, representing the Prime Minister, your presence here, as well as that of His Excellency Mr Pastor Ngoua N'neme, Minister of the Digital Economy and Posts, whom I thank for his support and consideration, is a great honour for us and a clear indicator of the importance that Gabon accords to ICTs as a vehicle for economic and social development.

I should like also to express my sincere gratitude to Mr Lin Mombo, President of the Regulatory Authority for Electronic Communications and Posts, who has been a key player and cornerstone for the holding of this symposium.

Ladies and gentlemen, delegates,

The new figures just published by ITU demonstrate that information and communication technologies have seen unprecedented growth over the past 15 years, opening up huge opportunities for social and economic development.

There are currently over 7 billion mobile subscriptions worldwide, for a population estimated at 7.2 billion. This means that there will soon be an average of one mobile subscription per inhabitant.

The number of Internet users worldwide stands at 3.2 billion, of which 2 billion live in developing countries. In the five years from 2000 to 2015, Internet penetration has increased almost sevenfold, from 6.5 to 43 per cent of the global population.

The proportion of households with Internet access has risen from 18 per cent in 2005 to 46 per cent in 2015.

In 2015, 69 per cent of the global population will be served by a 3G mobile broadband network, and we are now seeing the rapid extension of 3G mobile broadband into rural areas.

Excellences, ladies and gentlemen,

As you can see, the figures concerning the progress of the ICT sector speak for themselves. More importantly, behind the figures is an economic reality which is evolving, and evolving very rapidly, driven by an active and innovative younger generation.

This economic reality is particularly significant for developing countries since it enables them to take their place at the round table of service provision.

It is a reality that requires our support.

Think, for example, of financial digital inclusion. We have witnessed the success of the M‑Pesa mobile payment system in Kenya, and have since seen the market emergence of multi-player and internationalized mobile payment solutions.

Let us also look at the agriculture sector, a key driver of many economies around the world, and in which connection I should like to acknowledge and congratulate the vision shown by President Bongo Ondimba through his GRAINE initiative, which consists in the use of ICTs to modernize agriculture and enhance the production, storage and marketing of agricultural products in Gabon.

We are, moreover, seeing equally extraordinary developments in the spheres of health and education.

Ladies and gentlemen, participants in the GSR,

Our shared and noble mission is to improve the lives of all the inhabitants of our planet through ICTs. In order to do this, we need both the requisite ICT infrastructure and legal and regulatory frameworks that are conducive to investment and innovation.

ITU remains firmly committed to facilitating global dialogue between policy-makers, regulators, investors, the private sector and operators, all of whom are confronted by the multifaceted challenges arising from the convergence of infrastructures, services and service providers.

It is with this in mind that I should like to welcome Benin's High Authority for Audiovisual Media and Communication (HAAC), a regulator for radio and television content represented within the delegation from Benin, and Facebook, a content applications provider represented within the United States delegation.

It is my hope that Facebook and other content providers will soon become members of ITU-D, where they will be very welcome.

I should also like to thank the GSM Association (GSMA) and the Global VSAT Forum for having sponsored the GSR-15 pre-events held yesterday, as well as the Global Regulators-Industry Dialogue (GRID), and to express my gratitude to all of the sponsors who have supported ITU and the Government of Gabon.

Ladies and gentlemen,

ITU is this year celebrating its 150th anniversary, and here we are at the 15th edition of the GSR. If I had to summarize the 15 editions in 15 points, this is how it would look.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The mission of all of us here today is to create a truly inclusive information society that can unleash the tremendous potential of ICTs so that every individual, and every nation, can achieve their development goals and contribute to world peace.

If we do not fulfil this mission, no one else will do so for our ICT sector.

So, during the three days we will be spending here in Libreville, Gabon, let us together write another fine page in the history of humankind.

I thank you.