Speech by ITU Secretary-General, Dr Hamadoun I. Touré
18th Meeting of the Telecommunication Development Advisory Group (TDAG)
11 December 2013, Geneva, Switzerland
Mr Pavel Filip, Minister of Information Technology and Communications of the Republic of Moldova,
Professor Vladimir Minkin, Chairman of TDAG,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Since we last met for the TDAG, two members of the ITU Family have sadly left us.
- Marie-Thérèse Alajouanine was a long-time delegate of France, and a regular Chairperson of Editorial Committees. She was also the first woman to chair an ITU-T study group. She passed away in June, and we all deeply miss her.
- Hassane Makki, a long-time delegate of Switzerland, passed away just two weeks ago, a few days after having participated actively in the week of Council Working Groups.
We will always remember his motto: “It is nice to be an important person, but it is much more important to be a nice person.”
Let me ask you to stand for a moment of silence to honour these two extraordinary people.
As we head towards the World Telecommunication Development Conference in just a few months, it gives me great pleasure to welcome you to the 18th meeting of TDAG.
I am happy to say that this year we have successfully concluded all the Regional Preparatory Meetings, beginning with the RPM for the CIS countries, which took place in Chisinau, Moldova, where Minister Filip was our gracious host.
From Chisinau, we moved to Phnom Penh, Cambodia, for RPM Asia-Pacific; to Montevideo, Uruguay, for RPM Americas; to Accra, Ghana, for RPM Africa; to Manama, Bahrain, for RPM Arab States; and to Belgrade, Serbia, for RPM Europe.
Along with each RPM, we also held Regional Development Forums which brought together inputs from key players in the ICT sector, especially from the ICT industry.
It will now be our task to bring together all these inputs from the RPMs and RDFs, in order to prepare for the sixth WTDC next year.
We have to look at the rapidly changing global telecommunication and ICT ecosystem, and see how we can forge a global plan of action for telecommunication and ICT development over the next four years.
Our challenge will be to find ways of fostering growth and innovation in the ICT ecosystem. At the same time, we have to ensure that the transformational power of ICTs can be harnessed as a catalyst for development and empowerment.
In order to meet the global challenges of our times, and combat the effects of climate change, policy-makers must look at ICTs as a means of developing smart, high-tech, green societies.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I am pleased that we concluded the series of ITU Connect Summits in all regions, with the last one being the ITU Connect Asia-Pacific Summit which was held in Bangkok, just before ITU Telecom World 2013.
It was a momentous event, signifying our commitment to mobilize human, financial and technical resources aimed at connecting the world and facilitating investment, employment and broader social and economic development.
At ITU Telecom World 2013, debates centred on ‘Embracing change in a digital world’, focusing on key issues related to the dramatic transformations in the ICT sector, and how these changes can be harnessed to improve peoples’ lives everywhere.
The same theme was taken up by the youth of the world, who gathered in San José, Costa Rica, at the BYND2015 Youth Summit in September, which was hosted by President Laura Chinchilla.
Focusing on the catalytic and transformational aspects of ICTs has also been the priority of BDT, under the very able leadership of the Director, my good friend Brahima Sanou.
BDT has recently launched key initiatives to use mobile devices and services, which have seen remarkable growth worldwide, to empower users in remote and developing areas, as well as trigger development and economic activity globally:
- M-Powering Development is designed to serve as an international, multi-stakeholder platform that seeks to leverage the ubiquity of mobile technology beyond basic communications.
- The Smart Sustainable Development Model initiative is an international, multi-stakeholder platform that seeks to link ICT for Development, ICT4D, with ICT for Disaster Management, ICT4DM, in order to achieve sustainable development through the optimal use of resources while minimizing additional financial investments.
Another important initiative is ‘Connect a School, Connect a Community’, which aims to connect youth as well as others in the community to knowledge and information, leading to employment and socio-economic development.
Ladies and gentlemen,
If we are to truly leverage the power of ICTs, we also need to ensure that the network environment is safe and sustainable.
We have made a great deal of headway with the Global Cybersecurity Agenda, developing strong and enduring partnerships with key players in this sector, and with the executing arm, ITU-IMPACT in Malaysia.
We also give strong emphasis to protecting children online, and the Child Online Protection initiative, COP, is a key priority.
Next year, as we focus our attention on WTDC-14, we will highlight the theme “Broadband for Sustainable Development”.
Digital development is a transformative tool to fast-track sustainable development. In order to realize its full potential, however, it is essential to speed up the roll-out of affordable and universally-accessible high-speed broadband networks everywhere.
Your work here at TDAG is extremely important for the future development and growth of telecommunications and ICTs around the world – in both developed and developing countries.
I look to you for your experience and wisdom in setting the priorities that will be addressed by WTDC-14, which will contribute to new innovations and developments in this very dynamic, resilient and forward-looking sector.
The outputs of WTDC-14 will feed into the ITU’s 19th Plenipotentiary Conference, which will be taking place in Busan, Korea, from 20 October to 7 November next year.
As the ITU’s top policy-making body, PP-14 will set our general policies, adopt four-year strategic and financial plans, and elect our senior management team.
What we achieve at PP-14 will not just affect the future of ITU and ITU’s work: it will affect the lives of everybody on the planet, in one way or another – so the work of TDAG, as it shapes WTDC-14 and therefore PP-14, is incredibly valuable.
Let me therefore close by encouraging your attendance and participation at WTDC-14, and PP-14, and let me wish you a very productive and fruitful meeting.