Speech from Dr Hamadoun I. Touré, ITU Secretary-General

ITU TELECOM Asia 2008 - Youth Forum Opening
Bangkok, Thaïland
31 August 2008

Esteemed guests,
Youth Forum Fellows,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It gives me great pleasure to welcome you to the ITU Telecom Asia 2008 Youth Forum. I hope you will have an excellent week here in Bangkok, and that you will return home full of new ideas, new passions, and the creative drive to fulfil them.

(It is always a delight to return to Asia, the heartland of innovation in ICTs, to see how the very latest technologies are being put into use and to learn about new and exciting applications that are changing people’s lives for the better).

I will take up very little of your time this morning – because it is vital that the Youth Forum be much less about the older generation making speeches, and much more about us hearing what you have to say.

Indeed, if I can quote from the famous Norwegian playwright, Henrik Ibsen, we are all hoping this week that, ‘Youth will indeed come here and beat on our door, and force its way in!’

I have previously observed, and I have no fear repeating: youth – that’s you! – represent the future of information and communication technology development. You, the new generation, will become the next generation of ICT leaders, so you carry not just our hopes for a more equitable and prosperous society, but also the responsibility to create that society. You are the guardians who will shape the future of the Information Society, which is in your hands (and your safekeeping).

My friends,

This week you have a full agenda and a wealth of opportunities for you to explore, not just here in the Youth Forum, but also on the exhibition floor, where you can see the newest technologies on display, and in the Forum and the Telecom Development Symposium, where the latest thinking will be aired and debated.

The Sessions and workshops over the next six days offer tremendous opportunities for exchanging ideas and different perspectives – opportunities for you to return home enriched and ready to share your new knowledge. And opportunities for you to shape the future, too, by taking part in those debates, challenging other people’s ideas, and putting forward your own points of view.

These Sessions and workshops cover vital topics in access, technology and innovation, policies, business and finance, climate change, emergency telecommunications and social responsibility.

I do not need to tell you not to be afraid to speak up and have your voices heard – as smart young people, this is what you do. I personally look forward with great interest to the Youth Declaration this Thursday, as a reflection of your views and priorities.


Ladies and gentlemen,

Before closing, on behalf of ITU, I should also like to acknowledge the generosity of the One Laptop Per Child foundation, which has donated one hundred XO laptops for the use of the Youth Forum Fellows here today.

Matt Keller, of the One Laptop Per Child foundation, is here with us, to tell you more in a moment about the extraordinary XO machine. The XO should act as a catalyst and seed for accelerated development across the region.

Matt represents my close collaborator, Nicholas Negroponte, one of the co-founders of the OLPC project, who sadly cannot be with us here today due to an unexpected commitment.

One Laptop Per Child has a dream which closely matches ITU’s own vision: to see access to ICTs and all the benefits they bring delivered to everyone across the world. From the smallest, most remote mountain village, to the furthest-flung island state, to the many places in the world which still have no access to electricity, let alone modern communications technology.

I will not take up any more of your time this morning – but let me thank you, in closing, for being here with us this week and I wish you a productive and successful week.

Thank you.