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Meeting of the Telecommunication Standardization Advisory Group (TSAG)
Geneva, Switzerland
3 December 2007

Opening Address by ITU Secretary General Dr Hamadoun I. Touré

 

Distinguished participants
Ladies and Gentlemen

Unfortunately I was unable to attend your previous meeting in February.
 
I am pleased to be with you this morning to review with you some of the highlights of 2007.
 
The members of the new ITU management team have demonstrated a resolute will in our endeavour to reach the Union’s goals.
 
Early in the year the new management team identified 5 key priorities:

  •  bridging the digital divide, through infrastructure projects, capacity building and assisting our Member States in developing an enabling and regulatory environment;
  • stewardship of the radio spectrum, on behalf of our membership, through global treaties;
  • adopting international standards to ensure seamless global communications and interoperability;
  • building confidence and security in the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs); and
  • emergency communications to develop early warning systems and provide access to communications during and after disasters.

ICTs/telecommunications are becoming more and more important to the global information society and economy, which is moving from static to dynamic markets, from low-speed to high-speed access, and from dedicated to converged networks.


ITU-T clearly has an important role to play in meeting these priorities.

The focus of much of ITU-T’s ongoing standards-making activities on NGN is essential to meet these goals.

In the context of NGN we see the attractive promise of IPTV to generate multiple revenue streams over the same core network. This will be an important incentive in attracting infrastructure investment in developing countries.

As we create ubiquitous communications, we will have an increasingly challenging environment in which to maintain cybersecurity. As I often say, we need peace in cyberspace as we need peace in the world.
WSIS gave ITU the responsibility to facilitate multi-stakeholder efforts to build confidence and security in the use of ICTs, - known as WSIS Action Line C5. This is why I launched the Global Cybersecurity Agenda earlier this year. The goal of the Agenda is to foster a common understanding of the importance of cybersecurity and bring together all relevant stakeholders to work on concrete solutions to deal with cybercrime over the next two years.

We are also working on other Internet related issues, including the multilingual Internet and new technologies to support access to ICTs by those with disabilities.

ITU made a major contribution in these areas to the recent Internet Governance Forum in Rio. You will hear more of this latter in the meeting but it was very successful in raising ITU’s profile and improving our collaborative relationships with other key stakeholders, and I am grateful for ITU-Ts work in these areas.
One of my major concerns is that we are just 8 years away from 2015 - the target date to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – and to connect all villages, all towns, and all cities of the world. This is why ITU has the noble ambition: to Connect the World, and the WSIS recognized ITU’s role in building infrastructure. To achieve this goal, ITU launched Connect Africa -- a regional “Marshall Plan” for ICTs-- at a summit in Kigali, Rwanda in October which resulted in commitments totalling $55 billion. We will repeat this in all the regions of the world.
 
In July, ITU was honoured by a visit by the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. It was the first occasion the ITU has had the honour of a visit by the UN Secretary-General. He emphasised the important role ITU has to play, and specifically asked that we play a role in the global response to climate change. I am pleased that you will be discussing what role ITU-T can play in this important area during your meeting. 

One of our major challenges at the start of the year was the development of a balanced budget to present to the Council. We carried out a major reorganisation of the Secretariat and the Bureaux. Other efficiency measures meant we were able to achieve this goal and in September the 2007 session of the Council demonstrated its support to the new management team by approving the balanced budget which I presented to it without any amendment.

The financial crisis of the organization is over. We are in a very sound financial state and the management will continue through the transparency and good governance necessary to continue this luxury, because indeed it is a luxury to be in a good financial state today.

One of the major decisions of the Council affecting ITU-T was the decision to make permanent the free downloading of ITU-T Recommendations. This has been on the table since 1991 but finally the decision has been taken. It is now up to you to take maximum benefit of this decision in raising the profile of your work, and encouraging greater participation in the Sector. 


This year’s Council was the first which started with a High-Level Segment. It was attended by 12 ministers who discussed the issues affecting the digital divide and cybersecurity. We benefited from their sharing with us their vision and experience, and giving us the benefit of their advice for the future.

Last month the Radiocommunication Sector concluded a very successful Radio Assembly and World Radiocommunication Conference with over 3000 delegates agreeing a groundbreaking international treaty to meet the global demand for radio-frequency spectrum. These achievements will allow the R Sector to better concentrate its efforts and resources that are so relevant to the whole ITU membership the whole world.


Next year it is your turn. Just last week we received the consent of the whole membership to hold WTSA-08 in Johannesburg from 21-30 October 2008. It was only during the September Council that South Africa were told that despite our best efforts we still had no host for the WTSA. I do not believe we have ever gone from an initial request to the successful conclusion of a consultation of the whole membership on the venue of a major conference in such short a time, and my most sincere thanks go to the government of South Africa for pulling out all the stops, including the personal intervention of the President himself.


I am really looking forward to the event, and the Global Standards Symposium that will for the first time precede it. We need to raise the profile of this event and I would encourage you to persuade your bosses: ministers, regulators, CEOs or CTOs to participate in the event. I especially would like to thank the honourable minister from Vietnam for agreeing to chair the event.

In summary, it has been a busy but I believe a very successful year.

And I wish you a very successful meeting. You have an important role to play in the preparations for WTSA. The Radio Assembly agreed a new structure last month and I would hope, based on your good work, the WTSA will follow this example, especially by reducing the number of study groups, which will improve efficiencies and make it easier for developing countries to participate in your work.


The aim of the TSAG must be to make ITU-T the most attractive place to come to do standards work. The Sector has responded with great speed and efficiency to changes in the telecommunications and ICT environment. Convergence between telecoms, information technologies, and broadcasting poses challenges that must be met. Convergence is impossible without standards and the work of the T Sector. And the T Sector structure must respond to this need.
 
Good luck and make it a successful end to 2007 !

 

 

 

 

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