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ITU Award goes to President Tarja Halonen of Finland,
Sam Pitroda and Kristin Peterson

World Telecommunication and Information Society Award will be presented on 17 May

Geneva, 10 May 2011 ITU marks the 146th anniversary of its establishment on 17 May this year by recognizing three eminent personalities who have contributed to the ongoing digital revolution. President of Finland Tarja Halonen, telecommunication innovator Sam Pitroda, and CEO of Inveneo Kristin Peterson will be awarded the 2011 ITU World Telecommunication and Information Society Award in recognition of their dedication to promoting ICTs as a means of providing a better life for humanity, particularly in rural communities.

Making the announcement, ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun Touré lauded the work of the three eminent laureates for their leadership and dedication towards promoting ICTs as a means of providing a better life through global sustainability, particularly in rural communities. “Information and communication technologies are constantly reshaping the way the world communicates while creating opportunities for a better life through long-term, sustainable development, not least among the most disadvantaged sections of our society,” Dr Touré said. “As we focus on extending the reach of ICTs to the remotest rural communities in every corner of the world, it is my pleasure to honour those who have dedicated themselves to harnessing the full potential of ICTs so that we can all enjoy a more productive, peaceful and — in every way — a better life, particularly in rural areas.”

The Awards will be presented on 17 May 2011 at a ceremony at ITU headquarters in Geneva.

World Telecommunication and Information Society Day (WTISD) marks the establishment of ITU on 17 May, 1865. It highlights the potential of information and communication technologies (ICT) in meeting the development and economic aspirations of societies and on the importance of the Internet as a global resource.

This year’s theme for WTISD, “Better Life in Rural Communities with ICTs” brings attention to those who reside in rural districts and far flung communities —  half the global population, or nearly 3.5 billion people — representing the poorer, less educated, and more deprived cousins of the world’s urban citizens. Among them are as many as 1.4 billion of the world’s extremely poor people, who are also among the least connected to the benefits of ICTs. “We cannot allow this situation to continue,” Dr Touré said. “It is time for global action to connect rural communities to the opportunities offered by ICTs.”

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, referring to people living in poor rural communities, said, “Their lives can be transformed as we connect village schools to information and knowledge on the Internet, bring telemedicine to far-flung rural health centres, provide accurate weather information to farmers and fishermen, and supply up-to-date market information to producers.” Mr Ban also noted: “Recent events around the world, in particular in North Africa and the Middle East, have highlighted the catalytic role that mobile phones and social media can play in galvanizing public opinion against repression.  And in the aftermath of natural disasters that have struck with greater frequency and force, we have seen how these technologies are a vital part of the aid response, establishing lines of communication that can save lives, reunite families and help emergency relief reach people in need.”

ITU World Telecommunication and Information Society Awards

President of Finland Tarja Halonen is co-chairman of the High-level United Nations Panel on Global Sustainability and has focused on several key issues, from sustainable sourcing to improving access to education and improving maternal health in low-income countries. Finland is one of the premier centres for ICT innovation and productivity, especially in the mobile phone sector. In July 2010, Finland made broadband a legal right for all citizens, which is in line with ITU’s campaign to accelerate broadband connectivity in order to feed both rural communities and urban centres with the means to meet their development goals and aspirations.

Mr Sam Pitroda is currently Adviser to the Prime Minister of India on Public Information Infrastructure and Innovations and Chairman of the National Innovation Council of India. He is also widely considered to have been responsible for India’s telecommunications revolution and has been a leading campaigner to help bridge the global digital divide. As technology Adviser to Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in the mid-1980s, Mr Pitroda not only heralded the telecom revolution in India, but also made a strong case for using technology for the benefit and betterment of society through several missions on telecommunications, literacy, dairy, water, immunization, and oilseeds. He has continued to redefine the role technology can play in a society like India by linking it to better delivery of services for the underprivileged in the country.

Ms Kristin Peterson is CEO of Inveneo, a non-profit social enterprise that takes computers, Internet access and telephony to rural and underserved communities in the developing world. To help offset connectivity issues and environmental challenges, Inveneo’s solutions incorporate cost-efficient and sustainable features that include ultra-low-power computing and long-distance wireless connectivity and they partner with local ICT entrepreneurs for in-country deployment. Ms Peterson has led Inveneo’s efforts to deliver education, healthcare, economic development and relief projects in Haiti and in 25 countries throughout Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia with life-impacting ICTs.

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For more information, please contact:

Sanjay Acharya
Chief, Media Relations and Public Information, ITU
tel +41 22 730 5046
mobile +41 79 249 4861
email sanjay.acharya@itu.int 
   

 

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