Speech by ITU Secretary-General, Houlin Zhao
ITU Telecom World 2015 : Opening Remarks
12 October 2015, Budapest, Hungary
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is a real pleasure and a great honour to welcome you all here today to the Opening Ceremony of ITU Telecom World 2015.
I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude on behalf of the ITU to the government of Hungary for their support and commitment in bringing this event to Budapest.
A city with a long tradition of embracing innovation and new talent, a city which for centuries has been the meeting place of different peoples, cultures and ideas, it is in many ways the ideal location for ITU Telecom World.
I am especially honoured by the patronage and leadership of His Excellency Viktor Orbán, Prime Minister, in ITU Telecom World.
I would also like take a moment to express my condolences on behalf of ITU and our membership on the sad loss of Arpad Goncz, the first democratically elected President of modern Hungary.
Ladies and gentlemen,
This has been a very exciting year for ITU, as we celebrate our 150th anniversary as the leading UN agency for information and communication technologies, or ICTs. 150 years of working together with our members to innovate and apply technology for the good of all the people of the world.
Hungary is one of the ITU Founding Members. ITU highly appreciates the long-standing cooperation between Hungary and ITU over 150 years. ITU is very honoured to have this year’s ITU Telecom held in one part of its motherland.
This is also a pivotal year for the global community in general as we move from the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs) to the newly agreed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and the year to review the achievements of our agreements and commitments made a decade ago at the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS).
It is clear that information and communication technologies have been and will continue to be an essential enabler and accelerator for sustainable growth and development for everyone. And we, as the ICT community, shall continue working together for the value of technologies to be maximized. Towards this objective, at PP-14, we agreed the Connect 2020 Agenda for global telecommunication/ICT development, with tangible targets for growth, inclusiveness and sustainability, as well as innovation and partnerships.
This ITU Telecom World event will certainly contribute to furthering this agenda. I am looking forward to vibrant discussions with tangible conclusions on many challenges and opportunities we are facing, such as the need to continue working on connecting those not connected yet; opening new markets; seizing the opportunities of cloud computing, big data, and the Internet of Things, including the introduction of new mobile broadband technologies and maximising the potential of radio spectrum in general; the importance of building trust for a connected future; and the key role of ICTs in the transformation of societies and economies.
Throughout its history, ITU has continued to evolve and adapt to meet the needs of its members and the changing realities of the industry and the world around it.
However, ITU could do much more in its engagement with small and medium sized enterprises. SMEs play an increasingly important role in the ICT and Telecom industry chains and in the market developments.
The SME sector in general represents more than 95% of all enterprises and ensures up to 70% of jobs globally. It provides two-thirds of all formal jobs in developing countries and as much as 80% in low income countries. And within the ICT sector, it is these innovative companies that are driving job creation and economic growth.
As Secretary-General, I would like to recognise the critical role of SMEs, of startups and digital entrepreneurs within the ICT ecosystem – as the cornerstone of a new and exciting direction for ITU and for ITU Telecom World.
I am personally committed to ensuring that we implement this new focus in response to the needs of countries, industry, and national and international socio-economic development.
Supporting SMEs is critical to:
- supporting local innovation ecosystems for local content and services
- enhancing human capacity, and
- creating jobs.
I note that Governments everywhere have made tremendous efforts to support SMEs in their respective countries.
However, there is a significant missing link.
There is no real international platform to bring SMEs, big or well-established industries, governments and other stakeholders together.
This is why we wish to reform ITU Telecom to create such an international platform where we can share knowledge; exchange ideas, best practice, and inspiration, and facilitate networking and partnerships with SMEs.
ITU Telecom World 2015 will, for the first time, include a number of elements designed specifically to support SMEs, such as:
- the Industry and SME Dialogue and the Government and SME Dialogue
- the Acceleration Platform of pitching and networking;
- the inaugural ITU Telecom World Entrepreneurship Awards;
- and the launch of the new Emerge Initiative, creating an international platform for supporting and promoting SMEs, in particular those with the potential for social impact in emerging markets.
I invite you all to participate in and benefit from these activities,
At ITU Telecom World 2015, the innovations, exhibits and meetings on the showfloor, our debates in the forum, our networking and connecting throughout the four days of this event are key to our success.
By collaborating, by working together, we can accelerate the growth of technology and the social good it can bring.
I thank you all for the presence here of so many leaders from the public and private sector from so many nations, and for your commitment to working together at ITU Telecom World for the good of the industry and the good of the world.
I believe that this event will be a significant milestone from which ITU will be able to continue this journey and build up its momentum to support ICT SMEs.
Again, I am deeply grateful to the Government of Hungary for hosting this event and making this possible.
Thank you for your attention.