Ladies and gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure and a privilege to be here in Hammamet this afternoon to moderate this Ministerial Panel at the ICT 4 All Forum.
I would like to extend my special thanks to the Government of Tunisia: for its hospitality; for its commitment to ICT development; and for its organization of this important event.
It is now five years since governments, international organizations, the private sector and civil society concluded the second phase of WSIS in Tunis in 2005.
The final outcomes included the Tunis Commitment and the Tunis Agenda for the Information Society – which set out a number of objectives to be urgently addressed in order to create an open, accessible and inclusive Information Society.
A lot has been achieved since then, and it is very encouraging to see that the commitment of WSIS stakeholders has not diminished with time.
This afternoon we are looking at the role that youth should play in national ICT development strategies.
What youth lacks in experience is dramatically counterbalanced in the modern world of ICTs by the flexibility and agility which is necessary to succeed in an incredibly fast-moving and fast-changing environment.
And young people, of course, have the enormous advantage of being digital natives; of being technologically literate almost from birth.
Which parent here in the room today has not resorted to asking their child for help with a mobile phone, a computer or even a remote control for a DVD player?
There are very many people working in the ICT sector today who are brilliant in their fields – eminent scientists, profound thinkers, smart technologists, and successful business-people, among others.
But they are, for the most part, digital immigrants. So in spite of their best and brightest efforts they will never truly ‘get it’.
And however successful they may become, just like immigrants in the real world, they will never be as quick, or as fluent, or as steeped in local customs and culture, as the natives.
So we must look to youth, and we must ensure that they are properly incorporated into ICT development strategies at the national level.
Indeed, we must go further than this, and make sure that youth is also properly represented, and given an opportunity to contribute, at the regional and global level too.
This is not as easy as one might imagine. Because youth’s flexibility and agility also includes a tendency to do things differently from the way older people might expect or feel is right.
It would be hard to imagine older people starting companies like Google or Yahoo, or indeed creating the social networking sites which have proliferated so massively in recent years.
So we must not only include youth in national strategies, but we must also ensure that they have the freedom to be as creative as they can and must be, and the freedom to find new ways of achieving the goals which were set out at WSIS in 2003 and 2005.
Ladies and gentlemen,
On that note, let me open up the discussion, and ask our distinguished panel to share their thoughts with us.
And I would also very much like to hear from younger people in the room this afternoon – so I would be grateful if interventions could be kept brief to leave time for contributions from the floor.