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GIL - Global Industry Leaders Forum 
Pattaya, Thailand
10 March 2008

Remarks by ITU Secretary General Dr Hamadoun I. Touré

Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen,


I am honoured to have His Excellency Mr Mun Patanotai, Minister of Information and Communication Technology and Mr Suranan Wongvithayakamjorn, Secretary-General of the National Telecommunications Commission here with me in the Opening Ceremony, as well as Mr. Sanjiv Ahuja, CEO of Orange UK and of course, my friend and colleague Mr. Sami Al Basheer.


It is always a pleasure to arrive here in Thailand and what better place than the dynamic city of Pattaya to inspire a fruitful exchange of views and innovative thinking between global industry leaders.


This year Thailand is a popular destination for the ITU and its partners. Not only are we holding the Global Industry Leaders’ Forum and the Global Symposium for Regulators over the next few days, but at the beginning of September ITU TELECOM Asia will be held in Bangkok.


I am very glad to see so many of you here today and I want to challenge you to join us in our mission to connect the world. Business and Government have a complementary role to play, especially in the field of ICTs. The energy and vitality of the business world is essential to development.  When the market conditions are right business comes in, investments are made, new enterprises are formed and productivity and growth follow.  No development strategy can be successful without involvement of the private sector. Yet for the market conditions to be right, the legislators and regulators have to understand the needs of those investing in the market.  Regulators recognize the role of the private sector and the need for a public consultation that includes all stakeholders. ITU, in its role as a catalyst, has organized this Global Industry Leaders’ Forum in order to provide a unique opportunity for all stakeholders to exchange views and raise issues of common concern.


We have only seven years left to meet the Millennium Development Goals target date of 2015, but ITU is even more ambitious in aiming to connect the unconnected by 2012.  We know that we cannot meet this challenge alone and we count on you to join us in bringing together the necessary forces make this goal a reality.  That is why we launched the Connect the World initiative, a multi-stakeholder initiative to mobilize resources for concrete initiatives and projects in each region of the world.  We were delighted with the success of the first regional initiative, Connect Africa, which was launched at the Connect Africa Summit in Kigali in 2007.  The willingness to invest in the telecommunication markets of the developing world was clearly demonstrated at the Summit, with 55 billion dollars committed to developing ICT infrastructure on the African continent.  The Connect the World initiative will continue in each region and I am happy to share with you that the next event will be Connect Asia-Pacific.


Expanding connectivity brings with it expanding cyber-security issues.  ITU is very active in this area and is encouraging collaboration between all relevant partners in order to find the best solutions.  That is why we launched the Global Cyber-security 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.


In our mission to connect the world we must make sure that no one is left out. Last week we celebrated International Women’s day, and ITU reconfirmed its commitment to bridging the gender digital divide in society.  In May we will be celebrating the World Telecommunication and Information Society Day, with this year’s theme of “Connecting people with disabilities: ICT opportunities for all”.  ICTs have the potential to ensure that everyone everywhere can make their own unique contribution to society.


The world of ICTs is the world of innovation. New technologies are appearing all the time, be it mobile internet, high speed data access or the possibilities for centralized storage and data management offered by cloud computing.  Each new technology raises new issues for regulators and legislators.  That is why dialogue between regulators, administrations and industry can only be beneficial.  In the three themes of this Forum, “Universal access and rural connectivity”, “Breaking down the barriers for emergency communications” and “Stimulating investment and business expansion” each has its role to play. It is by sharing views and experiences that the best policies can be put in place to encourage investment and ensure that new technologies are put to the best use.


I wish you well in your discussions today and I am confident that if we work together there are endless opportunities for ingenuity and cooperation.

 

 

 

 

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