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13th Meeting of the Telecommunication Development Advisory Group (TDAG)
Geneva, Switzerland
6 February 2008

Opening Remarks by ITU Secretary General Dr Hamadoun I. Touré


Distinguished delegates,

Ladies and Gentleman,

It is a pleasure for me to be here with you at the opening of the Telecommunication Development Advisory Group meeting. As former Director of the Telecommunication Development Bureau and now as Secretary-General of ITU, ICT development issues are close to my heart.

2007 was a busy and fruitful year for the ITU and 2008 looks set to be equally busy and, let’s hope, equally successful. You will find information on the achievements of 2007 in the Corporate Annual Report, produced for the first time this year.

The last year has shown what it is to work together as one ITU. Our aim is to ensure that this smooth cooperation between the three Sectors of the ITU continues, while getting the right support and leadership for the General Secretariat and avoiding duplication, so as to meet the needs of you, our members, in the most efficient way possible.

We worked hard together to prepare a balanced budget and Council’s approval of the budget I presented, without any amendment, was an encouraging demonstration of support for the new management team.

Last year’s Council was the first to start with a High-Level Segment, attended by 12 ministers who, through their discussions, shared with us their vision and experience.

With such a solid base, we are ready to take on the challenges ahead.

Early last 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 regulatory environment;
  • stewardship of the radio spectrum, on behalf of our membership, through global treaties, the 2007 WRC will be considered as a key landmark in the ITU history;
  • adopting international standards to ensure seamless global communications and interoperability (TSAG/WTSR);
  • 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 natural disasters.

To this I would like to add the important role that ITU has to play in the area of ICTs and Climate Change. The United Nations Secretary-General, emphasized ITU’s role in this area when visiting ITU in July last year. Now, more recently at the World Economic Forum, the world’s leading ICT companies agreed to take the lead in achieving a low carbon economy.

Let me share with you the basis for part of the discussions that took place at Davos. According to one well known report, “the ICT industry is responsible for 2 % of global CO2 emissions, yet ICT solutions have the potential to be an Enabler to reduce 30-50 % of the 98% CO2 emitted by non-ICT industries.”

Ban Ki-Moon described climate change as the “moral challenge of our generation”. The ITU, through its membership, is well placed to respond to this challenge and take a lead in showing how ICTs can assist in monitoring, mitigating and adapting to climate change. The importance that our members give to ITU’s role in Climate Change was reflected in the discussions at WRC and TSAG last year. A study of a proposed ITU Strategy in relation to Climate Change has already been undertaken and I have expanded the mandate of the Inter-Sectoral Emergency Communications Team to cover the issue. Each Sector has its role to play and I know that ITU-D is now completing a major scoping study on ICTs and the environment.

We cannot promote the use of ICTs without considering the need for cybersecurity, for peace in cyberspace as I like to say. This is why I launched the Global Cybersecurity Agenda early last year, an ITU framework for international cooperation, aimed at proposing strategies for solutions to enhance confidence and security in the information society. It builds on existing national and regional initiatives and encourages collaboration amongst all relevant partners.

I also set up a high level expert’s group to advise me on meeting the goals of the Global Cybersecurity Agenda and to provide guidance on possible long-term strategies and emerging trends in cybersecurity. The GCA and HLEG will of course take into account and build on all of the work in this area in the D sector and T sector.

With the coming of 2008 we have one year less to achieve the Millenium Development Goals. That means we now have 7 years until the target date of 2015. And for those goals to be achieved we have to work hard to connect schools, hospitals, universities, and all villages, towns, and cities of the world by 2012. Of course, this is a challenge, but it is achievable and, given that world leaders see ICTs as the key enabler for other sectors, it is essential.

Looking back I am pleased to see the progress we have made. The Connect Africa Summit in Kigali last year showed the extent of the commitment to achieving these goals. The Connect Africa Summit was a bold initiative. Who would have thought at the beginning of 2007 that we would see 55 billion dollars committed to developing broadband infrastructure on the African continent? This was a huge step towards achieving an all-inclusive information society and an exciting opportunity for the ITU to forge new partnerships.

But when I look forward I see that there is still so much to do. We must not lose momentum. We must ensure that the follow-up to Connect Africa is kept on track and that as our Connect the World Initiative moves its attention to other regions of the world it will be met with equal success. We have taken action, but what really counts is the results.

Together we have learnt to “think big”, in our initiatives, not to limit ourselves to small pilot projects, but rather to foster public-private sector partnerships for large scale investment, as an essential element in achieving our goals. ITU and especially ITU-D is well placed to assist developing countries in using ICTs for development and global competitiveness, thereby creating a market environment that encourages further investment. I have every confidence in ITU-D and its Director.

The ITU management team is fully committed to achieving the goals of the Union and meeting the needs of our members, but the extent of our success will depend on team work, not just among management, but throughout the staff of the ITU. With this in mind a retreat has been organized to take place at the end of this week, where senior management of the ITU will get together to share a common vision for the Union, to consider the ideas put forward by this meeting as well as those of the other Sectors and to strengthen team spirit. Good management is of course essential, but I believe that every staff-member has a role to play in making a success of the work of the ITU and that is why the staff have been invited to put forward their ideas and suggestions for consideration by management during the retreat.

Finally, I am pleased to inform you that the ITU management team is coming together. I have appointed lately a number of senior management posts – the Heads of Administration and Finance (A&F), the Head of Strategic Planning and Membership (SPM), and the head of Information Services (IS). Ms Doreen Bogdan, whom you all know from BDT, has accepted to head the SPM. Please join me in welcoming the new team. With these appointments, I hope to go in full motion with the implementation of the ITU Strategic Plan.

Together with the Elected Officials, I am confident that we will take ITU to the highest dimension ever. To do this, we need and appreciate not only your confidence but also your very active participation in the work of the ITU.

I know that the Director of the BDT and his staff have been working hard to ensure the success of this meeting. I leave you in their capable hands and wish you inspiration in your discussions over the next three days.

 

 

 

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