H.E. Minister Ivy MATSEPE CASABURRI,
H.E. Vice-Minister Dr Mr Nguyen THANH HUNG,
Excellencies, Ministers, Ambassadors,
Directors of BR, TSB, BDT,
Chairman of TSAG,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Welcome to the Global Standards Symposium. It is a great pleasure to be here
with you today, in Johannesburg, the heart of Africa’s most vibrant and
fast-growing region for information and communication technologies. It is an
especially great pleasure for me to welcome Dr Ivy MATSEPE-CASABURRI, Minister
of Communications, South Africa whose wise words we have just heard.
In the last few weeks we have seen a global financial crisis unravel that
affects us all. No industry is immune. With lines of credit not so freely
available it is quite possible that the rollout of new technology will stall and
if so, there will be a knock on effect for manufacturers, operators and users. I
am optimistic that we will weather this storm as we did following the end of the
dotcom boom. After all the ICT Sector is the engine for all other sectors.
Moreover, in times of crisis for other industries such as energy, transport, the
use of ICT becomes the best way to solve those problems.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Standards are a proven tool in terms of economic development. The WTO trade
report of 2005 underlines the important benefits that standards can deliver. A
study by the British Standards Institute has shown that standards make an annual
contribution of GBP 2.5 billion to the UK economy and 13 per cent of the growth
in labour productivity is attributed to the role of standards. The German
standardization institute DIN has estimated that the economic benefits of
standardization are about one per cent of GDP in Germany. In Canada standards
accounted for 17 per cent of labour productivity increase and nine per cent of
growth of GDP over the 1981-2004 period according to its national standards
body. I look forward to reading similar figures coming in the future from
Standards may have a significant effect on limiting the undesirable outcomes of
The work of ITU and in the development of global standards for ICTs and telecoms
has helped the smoother, more economical introduction of new technologies.
Today I hope we can find inspiration to move forward into an era of even greater
efficiency and cooperation. With the combined influence of the individuals in
this room I think we can really hope to make a difference.
As the United Nations’ lead agency for telecommunication and information
technology, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is spearheading an
ambitious global effort to help connect the unconnected by 2015 (or 2012). In
doing so, ITU has actively engaged governments, industry, development banks and
financial institutions, civil society and other partners.
Our objective is to mobilize human, financial and technical resources for the
implementation of the connectivity targets of the World Summit on the
Information Society (WSIS) and the regional initiatives adopted by Member States
at the ITU World Telecommunication Development Conference 2006. As recognized by
global leaders during WSIS, achieving these connectivity objectives will serve
as a catalyst to help realize the broader 2015 United Nations Millennium
Development Goals in health, education, economy, industry, agriculture,
employment and poverty reduction.
In this vein, ITU and partners are organizing a series of Connect the World
regional Summits over the coming years, bringing together like-minded
stakeholders to work together on concrete actions and projects to expand
information and communication technology (ICT) networks and access as a means of
spurring investment, employment and broader social and economic development. The
Connect Africa Summit, the first in the series, was held in Kigali, Rwanda in
October 2007, under the patronage and leadership of the President of Rwanda, His
Excellency, Mr. Paul Kagame.
Those of you who attended the Connect Africa event will remember the tremendous
buzz this generated. In just two days we were successful in raising an
unprecedented 55 billion dollars in funding and in-kind contributions, most of
which will be allocated to pan-regional projects aimed at solving major ICT
bottlenecks in areas like bandwidth, access costs and network reach.
Additional Summits will be held in other regions in the coming years. I
passionately believe that this win-win initiative will benefit every single
developing economy, by helping build new markets for ICTs, and by helping
nurture new pools of ICT-skilled labour in disadvantaged countries. These ‘new
economy’ professionals will help spur even faster regional growth, while at the
same time helping themselves and their nations build a better, more prosperous
Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen
The standards, topologies, protocols and interfaces developed by standards
organizations such as ITU engender a smoothly functioning global ICT network. A
network that powers commerce, politics, democracy, health, education,
entertainment, literacy and of course the financial markets that we have heard
so much about recently. In short, a network that has become fundamental to our
As the world’s pre-eminent ICT standards body ITU’s standards work underpins
much of this amazing technological achievement and plays a strong role in the
Union’s noble ambition: to Connect the World.
Through this meeting I am confident that you can influence the future direction
of standardization, ensuring that standards meet the specific requirements of
global business, consumers, developing countries and others with limited access
to the benefits of ICTs, as well as people with disabilities. I also strongly
believe that the work of standards bodies can also significantly help lessen the
effects of climate change.
Today’s events and the events of the WTSA that starts here tomorrow see the
public and private sector meet to define the standardization priorities and
broad work programme for the coming four years. They are critical events for
every manufacturer and developer. I am particularly proud of the way in which my
friend and colleague Malcolm Johnson has taken the leadership of the
Standardization Sector, and how he was able to fit into ITU’ s management team
to make the ‘One ITU’ concept a reality. A ‘One ITU’ where all three Sectors,
BDT, BR and TSB are working with one common goal ‘ To connect the world’.
But while we’re pioneering new standards systems and applications, let us
remember the three billion people in the world still lacking an affordable and
reliable connection to basic services. Many governments have recognized that
ICTs are now the key engine for economic growth. With the right mix of
infrastructure and services, these under-developed markets will quickly take
That’s not just a boon for under-resourced communities, it’s a huge opportunity
for many of your organizations.
And that makes it a win-win situation in which everyone will benefit. Booming
markets will create more jobs, and more wealth. And here in Africa and other
places, in the Americas, Asia Pacific, Arab world, and Europe, every child will
get access to the information and communications they need to realize their
potential and create a much brighter future.