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Closing Remarks by the BDT Director to the WTDC-02

Closing Remarks
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 digital opportunities.

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 Opportunity".

I thank you.



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