Speech from Mr Houlin Zhao, ITU Deputy Secretary-General

24th Universal Post Congress
A Sustainable and Inclusive Globalization

Geneva, Switzerland
25 July 2008

Distinguished colleagues,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

In an increasingly interconnected world, accessibility and inclusiveness must be our watchwords in building tomorrow’s equitable Knowledge Societies.

As the UN agency charged with development of the world’s information and communication technologies, ITU places great store in brokering global consensus on the platforms and technologies that ensure access through seamless global interconnection.

At the same time, through development initiatives and strategic partnerships with governments, leading ICT developers and service providers, we strive to build local capacity and bring affordable ICT services to people the world over.

The cooperation between UPU and ITU has existed for many years. ITU Standardization Sector established in 1984 a Resolution concerning the cooperation with UPU for technical study on services of common interests. The ITU Telecom Development Sector has cooperated with UPU on several projects in the past years.

Building on that, in 2005 UPU became one of the founding members of our Connect the World initiative, launching its International Financial System money-transfer service to millions of remittance workers.

Last year, our organizations decided to further strengthen our cooperation by signing an MoU aimed at developing and improving ICT-based services in post offices. Projects are now underway in Afghanistan, Lesotho, Nepal and South Africa. In Bhutan, we successfully joined forces with local PTTs and the Indian Government to bring post offices online. This project is not only providing low-cost access to ICTs in remote rural areas, it is also stimulating local content production.

Through these efforts, our organizations are helping developing countries leverage the power of ICT access at a grassroots level. But true inclusiveness encompasses more than ensuring developing countries enjoy the same kinds of advanced ICTs that are driving economic growth in the industrialized world. This year’s World Telecommunication and Information Society Day, celebrated on the 17th of May, emphasized the importance of making ICTs accessible to persons with disabilities, through a focus on the Universal Design Principles that are already enshrined in a great many ITU technical Recommendations.

I’d like to take this opportunity to wish you a very fruitful and successful event.