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ITU - Connect Africa Summit, Kigali, Rwanda
29 October 2007

Opening Remarks by ITU Secretary General Dr Hamadoun I. Touré

Bonjour,
 
Monsieur, Son Excellence, le Président Kagame,

Excellences, les Chefs d’État d’Afrique, ici présents,

Excellences, les invités d’honneur des pays étrangers,

Chers amis et collègues,
 
Vous pouvez imaginer ma joie devant une telle audience. Je suis aujourd’hui un homme heureux après des mois des discussions, plus que dix mois après ma prise en fonction en tant que Secrétaire-Générale de l’Union Internationale des Télécommunications, je me retrouve parmi vous ici.
 
Je voudrais remercier mes collègues du secteur privé et de la communauté internationale pour leur présence très effective. Je vais être très bref dans ce message – j’ai juste cinq minutes pour vous dire quelques uns des objectifs de cette conférence. Notre ainé très respectable, Président Wade, pour qui j’ai beaucoup de respect, nous a dit il y quelques mois qu’il est très fatigué des Sommets, il y a suffisamment de Sommets qui se sont passés effectivement.
 
On a eu beaucoup de résolutions, beaucoup de recommandations et nous sommes là aujourd’hui dans un Sommet assez spéciale : nous voulons mettre en place des actions concrètes. On a eu suffisamment de résolutions, de recommandations, on a fait beaucoup de cadres, et on doit les faire marcher.
 
Et c’est pourquoi nous sommes dits qu’il fallait avoir avec nous tous les éléments qu’il fallait pour créer une réaction à la chaine.  Je suis donc un homme heureux de voir que nous avons nos leadeurs africains ici,  pour nous dire à quel point ils soutiennent nos actions, pour nous dire leurs visions, leurs grands rêves qu’ils ont pour ce continent.
 
Nous avons aussi des Chefs d’État qui ont eu le courage de rêver et de rêver très grand. Et c’est à nous, les fils de ce continent, de mettre en œuvre leurs rêves.

 
At this juncture, Mr. President, my dear colleagues, I would like to tell you what will be for us the key success factors from Kigali.  We all know the extent of the digital divide, and for me, it is difficult to speak after President Kagame and after the UN Secretary-General without repeating what they have already said. My job is to tell you how we are going to do it.

We have decided to get together here in Kigali for business. We want to challenge each other and I have had the chance to challenge the business world – I was in the Silicon Valley at the invitation of Chairman Craig Barrett in February this year, and my statement was to them that I am here to challenge you: I am here to challenge you to come to Africa and do business and do a meaningful business: business that will create jobs, that will make new infrastructure, business that will be profitable for all partners.
 
For the past fifty years of Africa’s independence, we have had many business models: some of them based on charity, some of them based on assistance. And what you will not see here in the programme of this two-day Summit is assistance or help. We think we can make a meaningful difference by bringing together people who want to do business together and help make profits and develop the continent.

And I am very much encouraged by the facts. Over the past three years, Africa has led for the first time in positive economic indicators. Therefore, I believe it can be done.
 
The growth in the mobile industry has been the highest in the world for three years in a row in Africa. And we have reached an average penetration of 20 per cent, as opposed to 40 per cent world penetration, but at the speed with which we are going, we are going to get there.  While we are trying to bridge the gap in the mobile industry and telephony, we need to make sure that no new gap is created in Internet or in broadband.
 
I was very encouraged by the Ministerial Meeting on Saturday here. African Ministers met and have decided to bring forward the date for the Millennium Development Goals in the ICT field – instead of 2015, they want to do it in 2012. And I want to tell them, it can be done and we are going to do it - Kigali is the place.
 
There is an African saying that, if you want to go fast, you go alone. If you want to go far, you go together. And I am very pleased to see all of us here – we are going to go individually and together, and we are going to go far and go fast. That’s my pledge to you here: by 2012, we are going to meet the MDGs – by saying to the people here, in this room, and many others out there: I am very much confident that 2012 will be the date for us, if not before.
 
And many countries are leading by putting the necessary regulatory framework in their countries. Our leaders have pledged to ensure that they will put the necessary tools for capacity-building in their countries. Therefore, I see that all the ingredients are together for a chain reaction. And therefore, from Kigali, the world will be a different place and especially Africa will be a different place.
 
I would like to thank all our sponsors, who are now shown on the screens, on the screen here, who have believed in this approach, and with whom, we believe we can do business.
 
Over the next two days, our success will be measured by the number of commitments made –commitments for business – the number of agreements that will be signed, the number of projects that will be presented. And many more to come – this is just the start. The road starts here, and our pledge to our Heads of State here present - that we will make their dream come true.
 
Thank you very much.



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