Ladies and gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure to be here with you in New Delhi this afternoon, and it is of course a tremendous honour for me to receive this award.
As Secretary-General of the ITU, it has been my mission – and remains my mission – to connect the world and to see the benefits of ICTs brought to all the world’s people, wherever they live and whatever their circumstances.
This is not just a question of putting technology into the hands of people, but a question of making the world a better place.
Because without technology and without ubiquitous connectivity, and without affordable, equitable access to broadband, we cannot make the world a better place for all people.
We have already made outstanding progress – and of course nowhere is that more apparent than here in India.
India has seen mobile cellular penetration explode over the past decade – growing from barely 1% at the beginning of 2003 to almost 75% by the beginning of this year, and bringing ICTs into the hands of some 900 million people in this great country.
It is now clearly time to do for broadband what has already been done for mobile, and I am pleased to note that India has been making active steps in this regard – notably with the National Broadband Plan, with the National Telecommunication Policy 2012 (and in particular ‘Vision Broadband on Demand’), and with Convergence Licensing and a technology-neutral spectrum policy.
India is admirable in recognizing that broadband development is a core pillar of the information society, and I applaud its efforts to improve access and rollout infrastructure; promote digital content and electronic services; and strengthen digital skills and literacy.
I therefore look forward to returning to this fine country in coming years and to see the great progress that I am confident will have been made.
Today, you present me with a great honour and an Honorary Fellowship which I shall treasure for the rest of my life.
But you do yourselves an even greater honour, in recognizing the importance of the information economy and the knowledge society in the 21st century, and in taking the appropriate steps to ensure that India reaps the full benefits in the years ahead.
Thank you once again for your tremendous hospitality and your kind welcome here – and I wish you all well as you pursue the digital agenda.