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

World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly - Closing Ceremony
Johannesburg, South Africa
30 October 2008

Mme Chairman,
Mr. Deputy Secretary-General,
Mr. Johnson, Director TSB
Distinguished Delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen,


Today I am happy to close this Assembly safe in the knowledge that we have made significant strides towards the further development of the information society… towards the knowledge society.


ITU and standards bodies in general have faced criticism in the past for being slow and bureaucratic.


I think that anyone bearing witness to the events of the past ten days will have been amazed at how far we have come. The procedures that are now in place combined with the excellent stewardship of one of the most capable chairmen I have had the pleasure of working with bring us to this excellent conclusion.


It was not for nothing that ITU was awarded the accolade of being one of the world’s most enduring organizations… able to reinvent itself time and again. This was very evident here at this Assembly. I am confident that Director of TSB, Mr Malcolm Johnson will now move this Sector to a level never achieved before, of course, with your help.


Ladies and Gentlemen,


ITU is an organization that embraces change.


At the start of the Assembly it was clear that we had a complicated task before us. We have always to expect that there will be some difference of opinion... this is natural when you bring together close to 800 people from nearly 100 countries. The fact that we have resolved these issues is testament to the value and power of ITU as an able architect of the standards that underpin the world's communications networks.


I would like to congratulate all the new members of the study group management teams and the new chairman and Vice Chairs of TSAG, and wish them every success in their new roles. And of course I cannot forget the outgoing chairmen and vice chairmen for their great commitment and invaluable contribution for so many years, particularly Gary Fishman of Lucent and then Alcatel Lucent, who has completed 12 years as Chairman of TSAG. I would like to extend my appreciation to Alcatel Lucent and to the US for having put the right support behind Gary to enable him to carry out his task with such high professionalism. I hope that you will all continue to work for ITU.


I congratulate their countries as well as the numerous countries that have put forward candidates all with a very good intention to give the Union and its cause all their expertise. My plea at the beginning of the Assembly for spirit of cooperation has been heard and I thank you all.


My thanks go to you all for your hard work in the various committees and ad hoc groups.


Our South African hosts did their utmost to help us all make the best of our time in Johannesburg, I am extremely grateful to them for their help.


My thanks, too, goes to all of the ITU staff, who once again proved that they are our greatest asset.


However I would like to reserve my warmest gratitude to you Mme Chairman.


Thanks to your able guidance and your confident leadership, patience and humour we have been able to steer a clear course through some turbulent waters.


It is with great pleasure that I present you with the ITU silver medal in recognition of your work here and your constant support of ITU over the years.


We have had an eventful ten days serving as a prelude to a new and exciting period for ITU… and its standards work.


Ladies and Gentlemen I would like to list for you some of the Assembly’s notable achievements:

  • It is the first time we have had a WTSA in Africa…
  • The first time we have had an exhibition
  • We have been honoured by the presence of the highest number of Ministers and Vice Ministers of any WTSA
  • We have seen the highest number of documents
  • And, the highest number of new Resolutions adopted
  • It is the first time that we have had a woman chairman
  • And the first time that we have invited students
  • We have achieved a restructuring of the sector that takes into account market realities and allows for greater efficiency in our work and keep ITU-T as the leading standardization body in the world.
  • We have achieved a strengthening of the resolve of ITU to bridge the standardization gap, what a new opportunity we have created.
  • And a fine tuning of working methods
  • We have adopted key Resolutions on:
    • ICTs and climate change
    • Accessibility to ICTs for persons with disabilities
    • Conformance and interoperability testing and possible future ITU-Mark
    • Encouraging academic participation \
    • Encouraging sector members from developing countries
    • Studies regarding nomadic telecommunication services and applications
    • The creation of national Computer Emergency Response Teams (CERTs), particularly for Developing countries

I expect you are all looking forward to getting home to your families. So I won’t take up any more of your time other than to say thank you all again.


I feel a great sense of pride and achievement at the close of this Assembly. Pride that this event is in Africa, pride that it is the first to be chaired by a woman and a real sense that what has been achieved gives us real strength to connect the world… which as you know is our number one goal.


Have a safe trip home.