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International Telecommunication Union
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Geneva, 15 May 1995 — The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) today announced that the Interim Board of Directors of WorldTel elected a leading telecommunication expert, Mr. Sam PITRODA, as Chairman, at its second meeting, held in the City of London, on 30 April 1995. WorldTel is a recently created organization which is dedicated to narrowing the global communications gap via commercial ventures in developing countries.

Sam Pitroda has more than 27 years' experience in telecommunications. He co-founded Wescom Switching inc. in 1974, founded the Center for Development of Telematics in India in 1984, and was appointed first chairman of Telecom Commission in India in 1989 with responsibility for all aspects of national and international telecommunication services of the nation. He holds over 50 worldwide patents in digital communications.

The WorldTel Board held a series of meetings with the major financing institutions in London in order to select a global financial adviser. Discussions were held with ABN Amro, Goldman Sachs & Co., Hambros Bank Limited, J. Henry Schroder Wagg & Co. Ltd., KPMG, Lazard Brothers & Co. Ltd., Lehman Brothers, Inc., Merrill Lynch International Ltd., Morgan Grenfell & Co. Ltd., Morgan Stanley & Co. Ltd., NatWest Securities Ltd., Paribas Ltd., Robert Fleming & Co. Ltd., and Salomon Brothers International Ltd. Similar meetings with Investment Bankers were also held in new York in February 1995 (see ITU Press Releases ITU/95-2 of 27.1.95 and ITU/95-3 of 23.2.95).

Mr. Pitroda said, "The meetings were highly stimulating and encouraging. WorldTel is likely to have a major impact on the availability of communications in the third world by developing new networks and services on a commercial basis."

The World Bank, in a letter to the ITU Secretary-General, stated that it "would be happy to work with WorldTel once it is up and running." The Bank also offered its assistance to set up the institution by seconding a senior staff member. The Secretary-General and the Interim Board of Directors welcomed the offer of cooperation from the Bank.
The WorldTel Board also appointed Mr. Terrefe Ras-Work as Interim Executive Officer. Mr. Ras-Work is well known in ITU circles with over 25 years' experience in the organization. He was the Project Manager of the WorldTel feasibility study "Closing the Global Communications Gap", which was carried out by a joint Mckinsey & Company/ITU team. He previously served in a number of development projects such as directing the feasibility study which led to the implementation of the Regional African Satellite Communication System (RASCOM).

WorldTel was officially launched in January by the ITU, the United Nations specialized agency for telecommunications. The WorldTel mission is to develop and support privately-funded telecommunications projects in developing nations. Client nations would obtain badly needed credit under reasonable commercial conditions so as to establish access to basic telecommunications. At the moment, nearly four out of every five people in the world still lack primary services. Operators would benefit from increased traffic. The industry would gain more market opportunities. Industrialized nations would benefit from improved and increased global communications. Private investors would also benefit from large, newly created markets and diversified portfolios.

Through its efforts, WorldTel hopes to break the vicious circle that exists in developing countries whereby economic growth is needed to generate funds to improve telecommunications capacity and capability, but the poor availability and quality of telecommunications deters investors form providing the required capital. WorldTel can deliver value in ways that powerfully differentiate it from existing institutions. It will focus exclusively on the telecommunications and information technology sector to provide specific expertise to client countries. These countries will be selected and served by a regionally decentralized organization. WorldTel can deliver tailored solutions that provide unique capabilities. It will make equity investments and can undertake a direct operating role if required. No known existing entity combines these attributes.

The other members of the Board are: Mr. Abdul Rahman Khalid Al-Ghunaim, Chairman of the Bank of Lebanon and Kuwait; Mr. Andrés Bande, President of Ameritech International, Dr. Pekka Tarjanne, Secretary-General of the ITU and Mr. Mel Ward, Chairman of Logica Pty. Ltd. of Australia.

Sam Pitroda has spent over 27 years in telecoms business in the private and public sectors, as well as in government in various capacities. He started his telecom career at GTE in Chicago, Illinois, in 1966. An Indian national now residing in the US, Mr. Pitroda co-founded Wescom Switching, Inc. in 1974. He became vice-president of Rockwell International after it bought Wescom.

In 1984 Pitroda returned to India and founded the Center for Development of Telematics. In 1987 he became advisor to the Prime Minister of India, with the rank of a Minister on national technology missions. In 1989 he was elected first chairman of India's Telecom Commission, where he was responsible for all aspects of national and international Telecom and over 500 000 employees.

Founder of several companies in the USA, including MTI International in Wisconsin, Mr. Pitroda holds over 50 Worldwide patents in digital communications, and has lectured extensively on telecommunications, technology, and developments in North America, Europe and Asia. As an entrepreneur and a visionary leader in telecommunications he has been featured in various newspapers, magazines, radio and television worldwide.

Mr. Pitroda is also a founding member of the World Telecommunications Advisory Council of the ITU in Geneva.

Contact:     Mr. Terrefe Ras-Work
                 +41 22 730 5401 / 5427 (phone)
                 +41 22 730 6448 (fax)

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