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CTU Ministerial Strategic Seminar: Forging Ahead to a Connected Caribbean – The Connected World
Hamilton, Bermuda
29 February 2008

Remarks by ITU Secretary General Dr Hamadoun I. Touré

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
 
At the ITU we are committed to connecting the whole world’s people and we have many activities dedicated to this goal, in particular the Connect the World Initiative.
 
Within the context of the World Summit on the Information Society, ITU launched the Connect the World initiative as a global multi-stakeholder effort to “connect the unconnected” by 2015.


Our aim is to help mobilize resources for the implementation of WSIS connectivity targets and the Regional Initiatives adopted at the last World Telecommunication Development Conference in Doha. Achieving these objectives will serve as a catalyst to help realize the broader 2015 United Nations Millennium Development Goals.


As I mentioned yesterday, as part of this shared effort, we are organizing Summits in different regions of the world. We started first with the Connect Africa Summit in Kigali, Rwanda in October 2007, under the patronage and leadership of the President of Rwanda, His Excellency, Mr. Paul Kagame. The Summit in Kigali gathered over 1,000 participants from Africa and around the world including Heads of State and Government, CEOs, Ministers, Heads of international and regional organizations, development banks and various donor agencies and others.
 
The Kigali Summit addressed issues related to expanding broadband infrastructure and access networks, rural connectivity, capacity-building, applications and services, and developing an enabling environment. A total of 55 billion dollars was committed, mainly from industry but also from development banks and other partners.
 
Under the leadership of my friend and colleague, Mr. Sami Al Basheer Al Morshid, the Director of the ITU Telecommunication Development Bureau, we are now working closely with the African Development Bank and other partners on the implementation of Kigali commitments and announcements. We are also now taking steps to replicate this successful approach in other regions, starting next with Asia-Pacific in late 2008, followed by other regions, including the Americas.
 
As has been done in Africa, ITU plans to mobilize like-minded stakeholders in each region along with global players, to work together on concrete actions and projects to expand ICT networks and access as a means of spurring investment, employment and broader social and economic development. I would like to emphasize that this is an open initiative that would build upon and reinforce existing actions and priorities established here in the Caribbean and in other regions.
 
In this vein, I am pleased to see that the Caribbean countries and organizations have already started their Connect the Caribbean initiative, both at national and regional levels. I commend your vision and enthusiasm. I can assure you that ITU looks forward to working with all stakeholders in the region, including CTU, CANTO and others, to align our respective efforts to ensure the maximum impact for all.  This will feed into the overall plan to connect the Americas.
 
 
Connect the World is one element of the follow-up to the World Summit on the Information Society.  However, all eleven Action Lines of WSIS are intended to assist in achieving greater connectivity around the world. ITU is involved in all eleven, but takes the lead role in two, namely C2 -Infrastructure and C5 – Cybersecurity.     ITU carries out numerous activities related to the facilitation of ICT infrastructure development, giving emphasis to the development of large-scale regional and national initiatives.  Connect Africa was an opportunity to foster the public-private partnerships that are necessary for such large-scale investment and I am confident that this series of events will be met with similar success in other parts of the world.
 
As for Cybersecurity, it is essential to ensure that the progress made in the use of ICTs as a vehicle for social and economic development is not disrupted by emerging threats to the information society.  To address these threats, I launched last year the Global Cybersecurity Agenda, an ITU framework for international cooperation, aimed at proposing strategies for solutions to enhance confidence and security in the information society.
 
The potential for ICTs as a catalyst for economic and social development is enormous, but things change quickly in the ICT sector and it is sometimes hard to keep up.  Given the rapid changes in information technology it is essential for small countries such as those of Caribbean to develop common strategies to confront increasing global economic challenges and turn those challenges into opportunities.
 
I recently took part in the World Trade Organizations’s Symposium to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Basic Telecommunications Agreement.  In 1997 many Caribbean countries adopted the Agreement’s Reference Paper, thereby committing to liberalization of their telecommunication markets.  Most countries have taken steps to establish regulatory bodies and dismantle existing monopolies, thus creating an enabling environment for the introduction of competition and the development of their Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector.  As for other parts of the world, the growth in this sector in the Caribbean over the last few years has been exceptional.   The Caribbean now has over 15 million mobile cellular subscribers compared with about 4 million in 2001.  That is an annual growth rate of about 30 per cent.
 
I can appreciate the importance that Caribbean countries attach to the development of ICTs and the use of ICTs for development. I also understand that this is regarded as an important component in the establishment of the Caribbean Single Market and Caribbean Single Economy. Hence the importance of a harmonized approach to ICTs is well recognized.  
 
I am therefore very pleased to inform you that the ITU has launched an ICT market harmonization project for the Caribbean, funded by the European Union (EU), with the involvement of all stakeholders in the Caribbean, especially CTU.  The project will develop common guidelines for harmonized policies, legislation and regulatory procedures and provide capacity building to ensure eventual implementation of the guidelines.   We implemented a similar project in West Africa, the results of which were endorsed by the Heads of State and are now being implemented in the countries concerned.
 
I attach great importance to this project, which I believe will bring significant benefits for Caribbean countries. For investors the different policies and legislation of several small countries can pose difficulties. A harmonized approach will help to create the best environment to encourage investment and further develop the Caribbean’s ICT Sector. 
 
ITU shares your goal of connecting the Caribbean.  I look forward to our continued cooperation.
 

 

 

 

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