ITU convenes unique gathering of tech & development leaders to forge new
strategy for global digital connectivity
Leaders, policymakers and statistics experts from industry and government
highlight catalytic role of ICTs
Mexico City, 4 December, 2013 – World leaders from
government, industry and research institutions gathering this week in Mexico
City for ITU’s
World Telecommunication/ICT Indicators Symposium (WTIS) have sent a strong
message calling for the international community to explicitly prioritize
information and communication technologies (ICTs) as essential to every nation’s
future social development and economic growth.
The three-day symposium, which opened today, represents the world’s most
important meeting of ICT data experts from around the world. More than 300
delegates, ranging from government ministers and business leaders to regulators
and ICT data analysts, are participating.
Held annually by ITU, the UN specialized agency for ICTs, the WTIS reviews
approaches to data gathering and processing and strives to harmonize global
methodologies for measuring the key statistical ‘indicators’ that help
government, industry, UN agencies and other international organizations measure
progress and shape development strategies.
“Without measurement we cannot track our achievements, identify gaps which
still need to be addressed, or set new goals. It is absolutely essential, as we
move forward with our post-2015 development vision, that the role of ICTs in
social and economic development is properly recognized in the setting of new
goals, targets and indicators,” said Dr Touré.
This year’s event is hosted in partnership with Mexico’s telecommunications
and broadcasting regulator, the Federal Institute of Telecommunications (IFT).
“At a time of tremendous ICT sector transformation in Mexico, accurate
statistical information is indispensable. Reliable data on access and
affordability serve as the cornerstone of concrete plans to energize the sector,
which is why Mexico is particularly proud to be hosting this important meeting
at such a timely juncture,” said IFT President Gabriel Contreras Saldívar.
Day One featured three High-Level Debates focused around key priorities for
ICT data and analysis in the lead up to the WSIS+10 Review process and post-2015
global development agenda.
Opening speakers included the Mexican Secretary for Communications and
Transport, Gerardo Ruiz Esparza and Minister of Foreign Affairs, José Antonio
Meade Kuribreña; IFT President Contreras Saldívar; ITU Secretary-General Dr
Hamadoun I. Touré; and Dr Sam Pitroda, special advisor on ICTs to the Prime
Minister of India. Speeches, photos and other information can be found on the
WTIS Newsroom at:
The high-level component of the meeting also welcomed prominent figures from
the telecoms sector including Carlos Slim Helú; leading policymakers such as
Alejandra Lagunes, Coordinator of National Digital Strategy with the Mexican
President’s Office; expert analysts from the UN system including Professor
Jeffrey Sachs, special advisor to the UN Secretary-General on the Millennium
Development Goals and Robert Kirkpatrick, Director, UN Global Pulse; statistical
experts such as Dr Eduardo Sojo Garza Aldape, President of Mexico’s National
Institute of Statistics and Geography; leading global development champions
including the Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau, Brahima
Sanou, and many others. The full speaker programme is available at:
The event also incorporated a special tour led by the Mexican government to
underserved communities in Mexico City designed to highlight the human face of
ITU led the call for greater recognition of the transformational power of
technology in the shape of a new UN development goal designed to bring all
countries up to a minimum level of ICT access and use at affordable prices to
empower business and drive growth.
Many now believe that, with hindsight, the catalytic role of ICT was not
sufficiently recognized when the MDGs were set back in the year 2000. At that
time, mobile cellular penetration was just 12.1%; today, it stands at 96%. At
the same time, the percentage of the world population online has increased from
6.5% to almost 40%.
The need to connect people to ICTs was included in the MDG framework as
subsidiary ‘target’ to Goal 8*. Now, the global technology and development
community is pushing for much stronger recognition of the vital importance of
ICTs to socio-economic growth.
“In today’s hyper-connected world, accurate statistics are the only way we
can set benchmarks to help us measure the progress of our development
initiatives,” said Brahima Sanou, Director of ITU’s Telecommunication
Development Bureau, which convenes the WTIS each year. “As the UN agency
committed to connecting the world, digital inclusiveness is one of our core
mandates, and this event is a key part of that effort.”
ITU collects ICT statistics for 200 economies and over 100 indicators, in
partnership with its 193 Member State administrations, over 700 private sector
members, and more than 60 members from the academic and R&D community.
In addition to publishing the world’s most comprehensive global ICT database,
it produces the industry’s ICT statistical reference report,
Measuring the Information Society (MIS), which includes a unique global
ranking known as the ICT Development Index (IDI).
The IDI combines 11 statistical indicators into a single measure that can be
used as a benchmarking tool to measure ICT access, use and skills in a given
country, and includes indicators such as mobile cellular subscriptions,
households with a computer, Internet users, fixed and wireless broadband
Internet subscriptions, and basic literacy rates.
A fast-evolving global ICT landscape
Figures released recently by ITU in its
2013 Measuring the Information Society report show buoyant global demand for
ICT products and services, steadily declining prices for both cellular and
broadband services, and unprecedented growth in 3G uptake.
By end 2013 there will be 6.8 billion total mobile-cellular subscriptions,
while an estimated 2.7 billion people will be using the Internet – though speeds
and prices vary widely.
ITU figures also show that mobile broadband connections over 3G and 3G+
networks are growing at an average annual rate of 40 per cent, with 2.1 billion
mobile-broadband subscriptions worldwide and a global penetration rate of almost
30 per cent by end 2013. Almost 50 per cent of all people worldwide are now
covered by a 3G network.
However, an estimated 1.1 billion households worldwide – almost 60% – are not
yet connected to the Internet; and 90 per cent of these are in the developing
Follow the WTIS event on Twitter at: #ITUdata
Speeches, photos, videos and background reports are available on the
An Executive Summary of ITU’s MIS 2013 report can be found at:
Journalists wishing to receive a free copy of the full MIS 2013
report in PDF format should contact Sarah Parkes at the ITU Press Office:
Download the MIS 2013 infographics at:
Download the MIS 2013 PowerPoint presentation at:
Download photos of WTIS at:
For more information, please visit the
event website or contact: