Mr. Hamadoun Touré, Director of
the Telecommunication Development Bureau (BDT)
Mr. Chairman, my hearty congratulations for your par excellence leadership
that has made our deliberations easy. Thanks to your great leadership, the
sailing was a very smooth one.
My profound thanks also go to the entire membership and the rest of the
participants who showered the BDT with many kind words. As I have said before,
the credit goes to my staff without whom all that good work would not have been
possible. Rest assured, BDT is continuously reinventing itself and will continue
to strive for excellence.
To all the BDT staff in Istanbul, Geneva and at our offices all over the
world, I want to say once again, how proud I am to be part of your team. I know
and sincerely appreciate your hard work that has made this Conference a
resounding success. Keep up the good work!
Let me at this juncture; congratulate all of you for your excellent
contributions and proposals during the past few exciting days. This conference
has made it possible for you all, coming from diverse regions with diverse
backgrounds to assemble and speak one language, and that language is the Digital
language. We indeed have heeded the old Turkish adage: "Even though you
know a thousand things, ask the man who knows one."
It is not often that one shares his dreams with such a large audience,
especially for me as I am not a good storyteller. Today, allow me however, to
give it my best shot. A recent dream that I had was of a newly erected fortified
bridge joining two worlds. On this bridge were a large number of jovial people
heading for a land of abundance. What could be the significance of this dream? I
again, do not normally share my interpretations of dreams with such large
gatherings but let today be an exception. After all, we are among friends.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Perhaps, all that jubilation by the multitudes of people was an expression of
hope and joy as they were on the verge of entering a new land - a land of
Digital Opportunities. That joy must have been an expression of relief and
celebration at the timely retirement of the "Divide." Let the Istanbul
WTDC-02 be a landmark and turning point in history. Never again should we talk
of a digital divide but of digital opportunities. It was Lord Keynes who
observed that, "the difficulty lies not in new ideas, but in escaping from
the old ones." The time is ripe, we must escape and focus not on Digital
Divide but, on Digital Opportunities. On this note, one can therefore safely
say, we have committed ourselves to saying, "good-bye to the Divide, and bienvenue
to Digital Opportunities."
The digital age represents a new frontier of human accomplishment and its
locus should reside in all countries. Broadband wireless communications coupled
with converging technologies have revolutionized the access to information. Now,
let the conclusions of this conference be truly the birth of the baby
"digital." We should have a strong conviction in our hearts that, if
we all commit ourselves to the conclusions of this Conference, the low
teledensities in least and developing countries can well be tripled or even
quadrupled before our next World Telecommunication Development Conference, that
Internet penetration will reach at least 25 percent of the population, that
every school will be wired or unwired, making information accessible to every
child in the world. Let us all make painstaking effort to move from words to
action as we have already laid a new frontier between the digital divide and
Granted, there are many challenges confronting us. These we must face, and
transform into opportunities and success. After all, it was Confucius who once
said, "Our greatest glory does not lie in never failing, but in rising each
time we fall." If we are to open the way for ourselves to optimize the
growth of economies and societies on a technological and innovative basis, with
competitive advantages that lead to higher levels of human development, we must
then concentrate on turning weaknesses into strengths and exploit every
opportunity to the overall advantage of the membership.
Before I conclude, I would like to thank the Turkish Government and people
for the wonderful facilities and hospitality, an atmosphere that that has made
the overall mood conducive to compromises. I would like to thank the Chairman
and his Secretariat, I would like to thank ITU's Secretariat for making me proud
of being part of this team, especially, I think you all agree, our Secretary, Mr.
Pierre Gagné. I would like to thank the Secretary General, the Deputy Secretary
General of ITU for their continuous wisdom and support throughout the
preparatory process and the Conference, and my two colleagues, the Directors of
BR and TSB. I wish to thank the translators, précis writers, coordinators, etc.
And, I cannot forget to extend my thanks to the Chairmen and Vice-Chairmen of
the Committees, Working Groups, Ad-hoc groups etc., and welcome the new
Chairmen, Vice-Chairmen of the Study Groups and the TDAG.
Ladies and gentlemen,
In conclusion, let me once again congratulate you all for your positive
attitude driven by your unequalled passion for development and look forward to
the future success of our partnerships. As we say in Africa: "Wisdom is
like a baobab tree; no one individual can embrace it." May this torch that
we have all lit in Istanbul glow and shine forever!
I cannot resist recalling the final words of the Istanbul Declaration:
"As a result of the deliberations of WTDC-02, mainly those reflected in the
ITU Istanbul Action Plan, it is expected that all humanity, and in particular
LDCs, will strongly benefit from information communication technology services
and applications transforming today's digital divide into a veritable Digital
I thank you.