Video Message from Dr Hamadoun I. Touré, ITU Secretary-General

Commissioning of SEACOM submarine cable
Nairobi, Kenya
4 August 2009

Excellency President Mwai Kibaki,
Distinguished guests,
Ladies and gentlemen,
It gives me great pleasure to address you today on this momentous occasion when Africa gets connected to the rest of the world. As Secretary-General of the International Telecommunication Union, this is a dream come true.
SEACOM’s submarine fibre-optics cable, which connects communication carriers in south and east Africa to global networks via India and Europe, is the new platform for large bandwidth capacity and growth at affordable prices.
While Africa has made spectacular progress in mobile connectivity in recent years, SEACOM’s submarine communications cable finally heralds the age of high-speed broadband on the continent. This shift in emphasis from voice to data marks a landmark transition that places Africa on a level playing field with the rest of the world.
Broadband connectivity has become the great enabler of modern society, helping people communicate across distances and across cultural divides, facilitating trade and commerce, and providing access to critical resources, such as healthcare and education.
The Internet is the powerhouse of the world economy. It is a vital and essential global infrastructure, with applications and services which drive social and economic development in every corner of the planet. It is therefore not an option for an entire continent to be left out of this global network.
Connecting Africa to broadband Internet comes at a critical time to bridge the growing information and knowledge divide which separates the continent from the rest of the world.
In one giant leap, the tremendous bandwidth on SEACOM’s communication cables brings about a paradigm shift by fundamentally changing the data landscape for Africa.
It breaks through the bottlenecks which had deprived access for too long. And it unleashes the full potential of African creativity and ingenuity, providing the opportunities to match progress with the rest of the world.
It opens wide the doors to information and knowledge, reaching out to the region’s cities and villages, schools and hospitals, helping under-served communities reap the fruits of high-speed Internet connectivity.
It facilitates trade and commerce between the African hinterland and overseas.
And it sets the stage for a cross-flow of rich entertainment and cultural exchange with the spotlight on African traditions, music, dance and literature — on HDTV and IPTV.
The ITU Connect Africa Summit in Kigali in 2007 generated commitments to interconnect all African capitals and major cities with ICT broadband infrastructure by 2012, and to extend broadband and ICT services to all African villages by 2015. SEACOM’s communication cable helps Africa reach these targets, which in turn will help Africans realize their development goals and aspirations.
With demand for communications services as strong as ever, I believe Africa has the opportunity to write an exciting new chapter in its development with the commissioning of SEACOM’s undersea cable. ITU is committed to connecting the world. And I wish you every success in connecting Africa to the world.