ITU

Committed to connecting the world

Speech by ITU Secretary-General, Dr Hamadoun I. Touré

World Telecommunication Development Conference : Executive Strategic Dialogue
Closing Remarks

29 March 2014, Dubai, UAE

Excellencies,
Distinguished delegates,
Ladies and gentlemen,

What an extraordinary afternoon this has been – and what an honour for me to have been able to participate in these discussions. I am delighted by the passion and energy you all show for broadband – what can I say?

Ladies and gentlemen,

The broadband universe is evolving incredibly quickly, especially with the advent of mobile broadband, which is the fastest-growing technology in human history.

Today there are almost 1.5 billion smart phones in use, and that number is likely to double in the next few years.

Most of this growth will come in developing countries, if the pattern of recent years continues to be repeated – with 90% of the mobile growth and over 80% of the growth in internet users coming from the developing world over the past four years.

We need to continue measuring progress in order to see what still needs to be done.

To this end, the Broadband Commission set four ambitious but achievable targets at the end of 2011 for making broadband policy universal and for boosting affordability and broadband uptake. Last year, a fifth target was added – to achieve gender equality in broadband usage by 2020.

Over the past three years there has already been substantial progress towards meeting the five targets, although they will not in fact be met unless growth rates accelerate further – particularly in terms of broadband access.

That said, continuing growth in mobile broadband in particular should give us good cause for optimism, with penetration in the developing world growing an incredible 50% between the beginning of 2013 and the beginning of 2014.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I think we are all very much aware that the role of the private sector is essential in bringing broadband access and services to all the world’s people.

We therefore need to ensure that there are sufficient incentives to invest in rolling out ICTs, not only in terms of infrastructure but also in new emerging critical technologies such as the internet of things and big data.

Last weekend, I was in Dublin for the most recent meeting of the Broadband Commission.

This was preceded by a meeting of the Commission’s Working Group on Finance and Investment – and I was very encouraged to see the recognition given to the importance of this matter, as well as the many creative solutions which were being brought to the table.

As you will know, I am an optimist, and I have tremendous faith that the public and private sectors will work together to invest in, and to roll-out, the necessary infrastructure.

They did this so well in the creation of mobile cellular networks in the developing world, and I am confident that the same pattern will be repeated for broadband.

I am also convinced that, in partnership, the public and private sectors will also help create the necessary services that people need, and that we will quickly see enriched content being developed and created – and that this will create a virtuous circle in stimulating demand.

As this happens, we will rapidly see broadband reach the remotest corners of our planet.

Distingusihed colleagues,

Tomorrow is the start of WTDC-14, and there has never been a better opportunity to make real and solid progress.

WTDC-14 has the potential to deliver international consensus on a set of specific actions to make broadband ubiquitous.

So what we decide and define here in Dubai over the next two weeks will shape not just the future of ICT development over the next four years – but the future shape of the very world we live in.

Thank you.