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Symposium “Development and Impact of New Information Technologies"
Buenos Aires, Argentina
24 August 2007

Speech by ITU Secretary General Dr Hamadoun I. Touré

Mr. Chairman

Distinguished Guests

Ladies and Gentlemen
It is a great pleasure and an honor for to address you on the occasion of this symposium. I am very grateful for the invitation and the opportunity to visit your beautiful country.

The new development model has identified information and communication technologies as one of the key factors that must be exploited to bring about large scale economic progress. This fact was recognized during the two phases of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in 2003 and 2005.

This symposium is timely given the fact that we are less than eight years away from 2015, our target to connect all the villages and achieves the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Given this challenge, a question is, “how to foster the development of new technologies and how their impact fits in the scheme of the MDGs”?

The absence of enabling policies to stimulate the development of new technologies prevents some of the most effective technological innovations from flourishing, and it would further slow down the march towards 2015. Until governments act decisively and with deliberate speed and purpose, ICT tools cannot be fully exploited here in Argentina and in the region.

We are making tremendous progress worldwide through the operation of market forces, technological change and regulatory reform. In particular, where the three critical elements -- market liberalization, private sector participation and effective regulation – are in place, we have seen rapid growth in the ICT sector. Globally, we have succeeded in bringing access to ICTs to some four billion people worldwide.

As important as the development of new technology could be for your economy, it is the convergence of new information and communication technologies that will have the most serious impact on development.

In the convergence area, policy makers and regulators face a serious challenge. They can no longer divide competing services such as telecommunications, broadcasting and Internet from one another. Any attempt at maintaining separation will not work. However, the adoption of forward-looking or progressive policies and regulations will stimulate economic growth and employment, which are the catalyst for human development.

I would like to take advantage of this opportunity and invite you to continue your discussions about the topic of this Symposium with others from the Region at the ITU-CITEL Symposium on Bridging the Standardization Divide. This meeting will be held here in Argentina, in Mendoza, on the 24th of September, just before the PCC 1 meeting of CITEL that will happen from 25 to 28 September.

Bridging the Digital Divide

I believe that this symposium will not only deal with new technology, but also the necessary understanding of the challenges facing the region. As policy makers, regulators and business leaders in the field of ICTs, you must also focus on certain prevailing realities.

Taking into consideration the goal of the affordable access to ICTs for all and the digital inclusion of the indigenous communities into the Information Society, the World Telecommunication Development Conference (WTDC-02) decided to create a special initiative dedicated to the indigenous issue in the framework of the ITU’s activities targeting “Assistance to indigenous people”.

The Tunis Commitment stated and requested in its paragraph 22, a special attention to the particular situation of indigenous people, which represent 370 million throughout world, and to give priority to their integration in the information society through the ICTs, with respect to their cultural patrimony and traditions.

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 Global is being developed here in your region: The Americas Indigenous Portal will be the pilot experience to be replicated in all other regions.

In the framework of this Special Initiative ITU has been providing access, use and knowledge of the ICTs through the development of ICTs-based activities, such as the several on-line courses that have been delivered to indigenous representatives of the Americas Region, respecting their tradition and cultural values and targeting the self-sustainability of the indigenous communities. However, we have to do much more to bring about the results that are expected in 2015.

This is why on 6 July 2007, we officially launched the Connect Africa initiative. It will result in a summit to be held in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, on 29–30 October this year. The aim is to accelerate partnerships and roll out ICT infrastructure and connectivity to boost economic growth, and help achieve the United Nations Millennium Development Goals.

It will not be just another summit with endless debates on new resolutions. Rather, it is to be a summit of commitments between partners. The private sector, governments and civil society will be called on to work together, and there will be a commitment to creating an environment that promotes the improvement of ICT. So the Kigali event will be the beginning of a process. And in following years, similar summits will be planned in other regions, such as Latin America.

The digital divide is one of the global issues that will shape our common futures in the 21st century. Our success in finding viable and sustainable solutions to bridging the digital divide will determine to what extent we are able to fulfill the WSIS vision of building an inclusive, people-centered and development-oriented information society open to all.

The Global Cybersecurity Agenda

With more than a billion Internet users today, not only is crime in cyberspace increasing at an alarming rate but its sophistication is constantly evolving. Fraud and attacks on network security are only a few of the many threats, which range from the costly annoyance of spam to personal identity theft and from the proliferation of child pornography to clean-up costs after computer viruses. Financial losses alone are estimated to run into several billion dollars.

These are some of the reasons why the second phase of WSIS in Tunis in 2005 asked ITU to coordinate a mechanism for building confidence and security in the use of ICT under Action Line C5. With this mandate, I was delighted to announce on the occasion of World Telecommunication and Information Society Day the Global Cybersecurity Agenda: a two-year plan to curb cybercrime.

The Agenda is intended to create a platform where governments, law enforcement authorities, the private sector, international organizations and civil society can work together to defeat cybercrime. There will be five pillars of this effort: finding technical solutions for every environment; developing interoperable legislative frameworks; building capacity; establishing appropriate organizational structures, and adopting effective international cooperation mechanisms.

I have decided to convene a High Level Experts Group (HLEG) to assist me in taking further concrete steps towards curbing the threats and insecurities related to the information society. HLEG will be bring together specialists from governments, industry, academic institutions, civil society and intergovernmental agencies to lay the foundation for a global response to the constantly evolving nature of cyber threats and the increasing level of sophistication of cyber crimes. I expect this Region to contribute substantially to this effort.

In this context, I would like call your attention to a very important ITU meeting on cybersecurity that will be hosted by the Secretaria de Comunicaciones here in Buenos Aires, from 16 to 18 October this year.


Emergency Telecommunications

As you know, this region has been hit very hard by two major disasters in Peru, the Caribbean and Mexico. A devastating earthquake and a very powerful hurricane have destroyed and changing people’s lives. Afterwards, governments will have to assist them in rebuilding those lives.

Providing access to emergency telecommunications is my third priority for next four years.

ITU has forged a partnership with ICO Global Communications and the Commonwealth Business Council (CBC) on using satellite communications for improved global response to natural disasters. Under an agreement made on 20 June this year, airtime will be available for disaster prevention, and to help ensure an effective response in the aftermath of natural disasters. This will enable both voice communications and other applications, such as telemedicine.

ITU also concluded a Memorandum of Understanding with Télécoms Sans Frontières. Their volunteer experts travel to disaster zones to set up emergency communication links. It has demonstrated how telecommunications can be used to strengthen emergency response efforts and save lives. We encourage other telecommunication operators to join us in using the potential of their products and services to save lives.

Regionally, ITU is to provide technical assistance to countries, specifically to CTU member countries, through the interconnection of information networks for disaster prevention. This assistance allows for the development of a strategy for the sustainability of the public infrastructure and systems through the use of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) in the event of a disaster.

This approach aims to strengthen and streamline the activities of national regulatory bodies responsible for the use of the radio spectrum. The main outcomes includes – besides the training and updating of a number of actors involved in preparedness and response activities - the development of 2 subregional information databases and the facilitation of a rapid recovery of services within the countries not only through the use of information databases but also through the use of other mechanisms such as coordination of rescue and response agencies and the development of redundant infrastructure.

Before I conclude, I would like to remind you that the world leaders who gathered in Geneva and Tunis set ambitious goals and deadlines to build the Information Society.

We have less than 8 years left to meet the connectivity targets and to achieve the Millennium Development Goals – MDGs.

By working together in the most efficient ways and, as I said before, I believe the Private Sector has an important role in the world of ICTs, I am convinced we can we meet those targets.

Muchas gracias por su atención.




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