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Elections at PP-10: Meet the candidates
Interview with Sami Al Basheer Al Morshid (Saudi Arabia)
Candidate for the post of Director of the Telecommunication Development Bureau
Sami Al Basheer Al Morshid

Question 1

A fundamental mission of ITU is to help spread equitable, sustainable and affordable access to telecommunications, and to information and communication technologies (ICT) as a means of stimulating broader social and economic development. How has your experience prepared you for this mission in the years ahead, and what are your expectations?

Sami Al Basheer Al Morshid: During my long experience as an active delegate with my administration, and especially during the last three and a half years as Director of BDT, I have honed and developed an in-depth understanding of the challenges before us, as well as a profound appreciation of the tremendous potential of ICT as a driver of social and economic development. In particular, as Director of BDT, I have had the privilege of working closely with Member States and Sector Members in all regions, and in the process I have learned a great deal about their needs. My wish is to continue in this role, with the support of our members, to build on this foundation for the benefit of the Union.

Question 2

What do you see as the challenges and opportunities in implementing the Hyderabad Action Plan adopted by the recent World Telecommunication Development Conference (WTDC-10) in India?

Sami Al Basheer Al Morshid: First, I must express my very deep satisfaction and pride in the Hyderabad Action Plan adopted at WTDC-10. It is clear that the membership is committed to taking a “fresh look” at BDT’s work, with a view to achieving a greater impact through the programmes, activities and initiatives of ITU’s Telecommunication Development Sector (ITU–D) as a whole for the benefit of Member States. The Hyderabad Action Plan has not only put the priorities of countries that are most in need at the top of the development agenda, but it has also consolidated the global programmes and activities, ensuring the optimum use of ITU–D’s resources; and at regional level, it has identified regional initiatives focusing on each region’s pressing needs and priorities. Going forward, one of the big challenges before us is connecting rural and remote areas, especially in developing and least developed countries. We need to continue playing an active role in this area, as a technical advisor and neutral broker, bringing together governments, industry and other partners to implement collaborative approaches.

We have made real progress in extending ICT to previously underserved populations, through forward-looking reforms that helped stimulate industry investment in mobile networks and services. However, much more needs to be done. This brings me to the great opportunity before us: replicating the so-called “mobile miracle” for broadband to support advanced applications and services for businesses, governments and the general public. In Hyderabad we set forth an ambitious four-year programme for the Development Sector and we are now allocating corresponding resources to leverage the immense potential of broadband for growth, employment and development.

Question 3

The ICT world is changing rapidly. To increase ITU’s Sector membership will be key in broadening and strengthening the Union so that it continues to meet the needs of a burgeoning ICT market. In what ways can ITU’s membership system be enhanced to attract and welcome new members from all branches of ICT — from traditional players to new market entrants — while retaining existing members across its three Sectors?

Sami Al Basheer Al Morshid: In conjunction with the successful Global Symposium for Regulators, as Director of BDT I introduced the Global Industry Leaders Forum, a new platform for ITU–D Sector Members to exchange views with one another, and with regulators and policy-makers, on key issues facing the ICT sector. This event has attracted a lot of interest, and has served as an anchor activity in our efforts to retain and attract ITU–D Sector Members. We have also placed an increasing emphasis on showcasing the activities of our Sector Members, through a new ITU–D Sector Members portal for example, and by highlighting contributions of industry to our various projects and activities. I have made strides to highlight and improve ITU’s regional presence. Our ITU regional and area offices, under my direction, are focusing on strengthening their relationships with ICT companies in their regions. This concentrated effort has been accomplished with the support of ITU headquarters, through activities such as the regional Connect Summits launched by the Secretary-General, and led by BDT, to stimulate public-private partnerships between regional and global players, as well as more targeted, complementary outreach efforts to address the unique issues in each region.

Looking ahead, I wish to build on these efforts, in addition to placing a special emphasis on reaching out to potential new members in non-traditional areas, including more Internet companies, as well as industries of sectors that benefit from ICT applications, such as health and education.

Question 4

In 2012, ITU will hold a World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-12), a World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly (WTSA-12) and a World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT-12). What are the key issues to be discussed in relation to telecommunication development?

Sami Al Basheer Al Morshid: Each of these major events will address issues that relate to ICT/telecommunication development. WRC-12 will discuss key subjects, such as how to manage scarce spectrum to meet emerging needs, including wireless broadband, and how to help countries make the transition from analogue to digital broadcasting. BDT and the Radiocommunication Bureau (BR) are working closely in these areas to better serve the membership. WTSA-12 is likely to address ways of bridging the standardization gap for developing countries, new Recommendations and guidelines for conformance and interoperability, and training on the application of ITU Recommendations. Meanwhile, BDT and the Telecommunication Standardization Bureau (TSB) are already collaborating to make progress in these areas. Finally, WCIT-12 will address the International Telecommunication Regulations which, in view of the changes that have occurred in the sector, should now include aspects that are at the heart of BDT work, such as security, misuse of numbers, provisions regarding accounting, emergency telecommunication services, and telecommunications for disaster relief.

Question 5

What will be your main priorities in the next four years?

Sami Al Basheer Al Morshid: To accomplish the vision established by WTDC-10, I will work with my ITU colleagues and our membership to establish a solid foundation for broadband-enabled growth and development in all regions. This means helping Member States to:

  • put in place an enabling policy and regulatory environment to stimulate investment in the ICT industry;

  • plan and roll out next-generation broadband networks, with an emphasis on connecting schools;

  • make the transition from analogue to digital broadcasting to meet imminent deadlines;

  • build human capacity to sustain future ICT development;

  • leverage ICT to improve emergency planning and response;

  • secure their telecommunication networks against cyberthreats.

Question 6

ITU’s “federal” structure — made up of the General Secretariat, the Radiocommunication Sector, the Telecommunication Standardization Sector and the Telecommunication Development Sector — requires collaboration and team spirit. What do you view as the fundamental components of successful teamwork?

Sami Al Basheer Al Morshid: While each ITU Sector has its own mandate and work programme, elected officials and staff should always work as “One ITU” focused on the overall interest of the Union. This holistic approach is essential to the proper functioning of our federal structure.

I believe that integrity, mutual respect, trust, and open communications are the most fundamental components of successful teamwork. When working as part of a shared leadership team, as I have done with my fellow elected officials, it is essential that each member is sensitive to the views of others, and feels comfortable expressing themselves, so that all contributions can be taken into account. Then, the group can together take informed decisions in the best interests of the Union.

Question 7

It is often said that good people are the backbone of any high-performing business activity or organization. What is your message to staff, with whom you will work to implement the strategic plan and goals that will be approved by the Plenipotentiary Conference for the period 2012–2015, within the budget that will also be decided by this conference for the same years?

Sami Al Basheer Al Morshid: I would like to thank the staff of ITU. We have made significant progress together over the past few years for which we can all be proud. Millions more people are connected today as a result of forward-looking reforms and initiatives by our members, with the support of the ITU secretariat at headquarters and in the regions.

One of the great assets of ITU is its diverse leadership and staff, representing many cultures from around the world. No one has a monopoly on new ideas. We each have a contribution to make based on our various backgrounds and experiences. To this end, I have taken steps to engage more staff in the internal BDT decision-making process. In my second term, I plan to go further still to empower BDT staff at headquarters and in the field so that they can more quickly and effectively address the needs of our members.

The Hyderabad Action Plan is an ambitious plan drawn up and approved by our membership, for the coming four-year period. The strength and diversity of our team, added to the immense unleashed potential of recent technological innovation, will help us reach our common goals. I look forward to the future with great anticipation and excitement. We are lucky to work in a fascinating sector where cooperation, innovation and creativity can literally change the world.


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