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Forum “Convergence: Transition of Traditional Networks and Services in the Americas"
San José, Costa Rica
21 August 2007

Speech by ITU Secretary General Dr Hamadoun I. Touré


Mr. Chairman

Distinguished Guests

Ladies and Gentlemen

It is for me a great pleasure to be in Costa Rica, a great country and a beacon of democracy and peace. It is an honor to address CITEL, the guiding force for information and communication technologies in the Americas Region.

ICTs are the all important tools which “connect” rather than “separate” all the diverse people and cultures across the great distances of this vast continent.

ICTs have been given an even more important role as an enabler. In 2005 world leaders gathered north of here, in New York, for a World Summit, as a follow-up to the Millennium Summit of 2000. The outcome document recognized for the first time the role of science and technology, especially ICTs, in achieving the Millennium development goals (MDGs) set for 2015.

The 2005 Summit was followed by the second phase of World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), which reaffirmed the importance of ICTs. WSIS also recognized the important role that ITU must play in building infrastructure (Action Line C2) and Cybersecurity (Action Line C5).

Before I discuss, those two topics in details, I would like to make an important point. We are less than eight years away from 2015.The possibility of not meeting the MDGs is very real. And, given that ICTs are the key tools to achieve the MDGs, we must meet our targets well ahead of 2015. This is why I am dedicating a great amount of resources to reach our ICT goals by 2012.

ICTs are omnipresent tools with profound implications for all economic sectors. The way we communicate, do business or engage in leisure activities is in constant and rapid evolution. We have all become familiar with e-commerce, e-government, e-learning, and e-health. ICTs facilitate everything from a payment with a mobile phone to space travel.

If we do not meet our ICT goals, the other sectors, such health or education, are unlikely to meet their own Millennium Development Goals.

Convergence of broadcasting, telecommunication and information technologies, create more potent and effective tools. However, convergence requires a well developed, state of the art, ICT infrastructure, well trained professionals and users.

This is why on the occasion of World Telecommunication and Information Society this year, I launched the Connect the World Series. We will begin with Connect Africa.

Connect Africa, which will be held in Kigali, Rwanda, on 29 and 30 October 2007, will be a high level meeting with heads of state and government and CEOs. There will be no new resolutions only commitments to create an enabling environment to absorb large scale investments by the private sector. We will bring together some of the most innovative minds and financial resources.

From Africa, the Connect the World Series will move to other regions where ICT infrastructure is inadequate to build momentum towards achieving the MDGs.

For the Americas Region we are already building the foundations with current initiatives such as Connectivity in Rural Areas, Marginal Urban Areas and Isolated Areas, large-scale development of broadband access. These initiatives are the subject of the ITU-CITEL Agreement just signed yesterday. But we need large scale resources to accelerate progress towards 2015.

As we build ICT infrastructure to connect the world, we have another challenge. We need peace in cyberspace just as we need peace in the world.

We need to avoid attacks on national networks as was the case in Estonia last Spring or more recently against the United Nations Website.

Cyberpeace is important to leverage the potentials of ICTs in promoting the MDGs with confidence and security in the use of ICTs. As mentioned earlier, WSIS recognized ITU’s leading role in Action Line C5.

For this reason, I have launched the Global Cybersecurity Agenda.

The Agenda is a multi-stakeholder framework that will build on existing initiatives, partners and take full advantage of recognized sources of expertise.

Its purpose is two fold --to identify commonly agreed global challenges to Cybersecurity and build national ICT security and emergency response centers regionally and globally.

To begin the process, we are inviting high level experts from around the world to identify the challenges as well as provide solutions. I expect the Americas Region to make a very valuable contribution to this process.

ICT infrastructure and Cybersecurity will be highlighted during the Council next month in Geneva. Government officials, including Ministers, will attend a high level segment to discuss and lend their support to these initiatives.

To introduce my third priority, I simply need to make reference to hurricane Dean, to convince you of the great importance of emergency telecommunications. I take this opportunity to extend my sympathy to the people and the governments of the countries that have been so badly affected.

Under the Regional Initiative “Interconnection of information networks for disaster prevention” ITU will provide technical assistance to countries of the Americas Region and more specifically to CTU member countries. With ITU’s support the region will develop a strategy for the sustainability of the public infrastructure and systems for use even in the event of a disaster.

Those 3 initiatives: building infrastructure, ensure confidence in the use of ICTs and emergency telecommunications are fundamental to building an all inclusive Information Society.

In your quest to build such a society your best allies are the young since they represent the best promoters of ICTs and are the early adaptors and key contributors to ICTs. Widening ICTs opportunities for children and young people is also an efficient way to accelerate assistance to Indigenous People, a concern of this Region.

During WSIS, the “Indigenous People and the Information Society” (IISC) represented by indigenous leaders worldwide, highlighted the need to develop an Indigenous Global Portal. The first phase of the Portal is being developed here in your region: The Americas Indigenous Portal will be the pilot experience to be replicated in other regions.

ITU’s traditional roles remain fundamental to its mission. In this context, I would like to mention the World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-07), which is scheduled from 22 October to 16 November. This is an important conference that will discuss the possible upgrade of Radiolocation in 9000-9200 MHZ and 9300-9350 MHz, and possible extension of the allocation to the EESS (active) and SRS (active) in 9500-9800 MHz. Other important issues include additional spectrum for wideband aeronautical telemetry/telecommand in 3–16 GHz, and frequency for the future development of IMT-2000 and systems beyond.

This Fall, we have a very full agenda that includes the Council, Connect Africa Summit and WRC-07.

Before concluding, I would like to express my sincere appreciation and extend my congratulations to CITEL and the ITU Centre of Excellence for the Americas Region for the exceptional results obtained with the capacity-building courses – another step towards 2015.

Señoras y Señores, no podía despedirme de ustedes sin antes decir unas pocas palabras en Español para expresar mis más sentidos agradecimientos a una Región que está dentro de mi corazón, a una Organización que es un pilar de las telecomunicaciones y un socio muy importante de la UIT y a un país que enamora a sus visitantes y nos hace respirar el dulce aire de la paz y de la democracia.

Muchas gracias América, muchas gracias CITEL y especialmente muchas gracias Costa Rica.




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