Your Excellency Mrs. Margarita Cedeño de Fernandez
Prof. Mark Krivocheev, Chief Scientist of the Radio Research Institute in Moscow
Ms. Mitchell Baker, President and CEO of Mozilla Corporation
Distinguished officials of ITU
Mr. Chancellor of the State Council of the Republic and Canton of Geneva
Ladies and Gentlemen
It is, indeed, a pleasure for me to address you this afternoon on the occasion of
the second annual presentation of the ITU World Information Society Award and, my
first, in my capacity as ITU Secretary-General.
This ceremony has one single great purpose – to honour the three eminent laureates
before you. And I will return to this idea later in my remarks.
We are celebrating 17 May exceptionally this year. But I invite you to take a moment
— to reflect — with me on 17 May as World Information Society Day as declared by
the UN General Assembly and as World Telecommunication and Information Society Day
as adopted by the 2006 ITU Plenipotentiary Conference in Antalya, Turkey.
I have to confess that I am feeling — again — the emotions that I felt when ITU
Members elected me Secretary-General. I am sure that my colleagues, the other four
ITU officials, who were elected with me, share the same feeling.
In each of the two phases of WSIS — Geneva in 2003 and Tunis in 2005, some 50 heads
of state and government came together to confer on us the benefits of their collective
wisdom. Their commitments to the entire world are found in four documents: the Geneva
Declaration of Principles and Plan of Action and the Tunis Commitment and Agenda
for the Information Society.
Intervening between the two phases of WSIS is the 2005 World Summit in New York.
There — some 150 heads of state and government recognized the role of science and
technology in achieving the objectives of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, our world leaders specifically recognized
— for the first time — the role of information and communication technologies (ICTs)
in achieving the development aspirations of all the world’s inhabitants.
In commemoration of our 142nd anniversary, I am very proud to remind you that ITU
laid the foundation for the information society in 1865 — well before WSIS and the
2005 World Summit in New York.
I stand here before you today to remind you that ITU Member States have set our
goals and objectives — and more importantly — our priorities by embracing the respective
outcome of WSIS and the 2005 World Summit.
Where do we go from here?
Distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen our political, business and civil society
leaders have spoken through summits and conferences. Now it’s the time to act.
Why should we act? The reason is simple — we are eight years — I repeat — eight
years away from 2015 the target date to connect all villages, towns and cities of
the world and achieve the MDGs.
Unfortunately, the possibility of not meeting the MDGs is very real. But, if there
is a chance to meet those goals we must rely on ICTs to accelerate the process.
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
rapid evolution. We have all become familiar with e-Commerce, e- government,
e-learning, and e-Health. ICTs facilitate everything from a banking transaction
to an AIDS awareness campaign.
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.
So, to meet this challenge, I propose that you roll up your sleeves and join me,
the ITU and its partners in the Connect Series. We will begin this year with a Marshall
type plan to Connect Africa.
Connect Africa, which will be held in Kigali, Rwanda, on 29 and 30 October 2007,
will be launched under the patronage of His Excellency President Paul Kagame, the
President of Rwanda, in the presence of the UN Secretary-General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon—
who gave his personal blessings —under the leadership of the African Union and in
partnership with the World Bank and the Global Alliance for ICT for Development
(GAID), led by Mr. Craig Barrett, Chairman of Intel, one of our sponsors.
I take this opportunity to thank Intel and Cisco for their contribution to this
African heads of state and government, the African Union and other relevant institutions
in Africa and around the world, the
private sector and others — too numerous to
mention today — will work together with ITU to commit to major investments to develop
ICT infrastructure on the African continent.
It will be a Summit that will bring together some of the most innovative minds and
financial resources to invest in the future of Africa.
From Africa, the Connect Series will move to other parts of the world where ICT
infrastructure is inadequate to build momentum towards achieving the MDGs — Connect
Latin America; Connect the Arab Region; Connect Asia; Connect the Pacific; Connect
Distinguished guests ladies and gentlemen, as we build ICT infrastructure to bring
more citizens of the world on line, we have another challenge.
We need peace in cyberspace just as we need peace in the world — as we saw in the
To achieve cyberpeace, I am launching the Global Cybersecurity Agenda today.
Cyberpeace is important to leverage the potentials of ICTs in promoting the MDGs
through confidence and security in the use of ICTs.
The Global Cybersecurity Agenda (GCA) is a multi-stakeholder framework that will
build on existing initiatives, partners and take full advantage of recognized sources
Its purpose is two fold — to identify commonly agreed global challenges to Cybersecurity
and build national ICT security and emergency response centres regionally and globally.
An example of the commitments that we need to build ICT infrastructure and cyberpeace
are before us today. This is why we honour these illustrious and visionary laureates
with the ITU World Information Award.
This Award is a symbol of our commitment to connecting everyone even in the most
remote corners of the world — to every village and every school.
Before I close,
I would like to also acknowledge other important developments in
- Our efforts to bring emergency communications to
the least fortunate victims of natural disasters allow people to quickly recover
and rebuild their shattered lives through communications;
- The development of speech recognition and speech-to-text
technology can revolutionize communications by giving access to the benefits of
ICTs to users without reading and keyboard skills;
- A joint Global Capacity Building Initiative for
regulators will be launched at Connect Africa in Kigali. This will build on the
success of the joint ITU-infoDev ICT Regulation Toolkit to further assist in creating
the proper business environment to develop ICTs; and
- ITU is pleased to join Her Royal Highness, Sheikha
Mayassa of Qatar to launch a campaign to help connect the young.
Distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, to conclude,
I wish to reconfirm to
the leaders of your states and nations, our commitment to use ICTs as a tool
to bridge the digital divide and bring about cyberpeace.