Speech from Dr Hamadoun I. Touré, ITU Secretary-General
I am very pleased to join you today here in Hammamet, and to support the
ongoing work of AICTO – and my good friend and colleague, Khédija Ghariani,
The subject chosen for this Forum – ‘The ICT Sector and the Economic Crisis’
– is both timely and appropriate, one year on from the dramatic events which
overtook the global financial sector in September and October 2008.
Just last month, at ITU Telecom World 2009, in Geneva, ITU launched a new
report entitled ‘Confronting the Crisis: ICT Stimulus Plans for Economic
The ICT sector has a major role to play in generating economic growth and
stimulating global financial recovery – across all commercial and industrial
The ITU’s report notes that the financial crisis has failed to make a major
dent in demand for ICT services – with the mobile and satellite sectors proving
remarkably resilient, and consumer demand for high-speed fixed and mobile
connections continuing to fuel growth in broadband subscriptions in major
And from a consumer perspective, do you see anyone deciding not to use their
phone any more? I certainly don’t.
Looking at the ICT sector in more detail, which ICT market segments have best
weathered the storm?
The main winners are wireless communication technologies, fixed broadband
Internet, Next-Generation Networks and satellite technologies – which all have
enormous potential to spur economic growth in both developing and developed
Distinguished friends and colleagues,
Economists may still be debating appropriate measures to combat the crisis,
but we at ITU firmly believe that investments in ICT – and broadband networks in
particular – have a major role to play in any stimulus plan. They often promise
stronger marginal returns on supply, and greater productivity gains, than other
forms of infrastructure.
There is an increasing body of research which shows that investment in ICTs
has a direct positive effect on GDP growth. And interestingly, higher-end
technology seems to deliver the greatest benefits.
A 10% increase in fixed line teledensity seems to increase GDP by around
0.5%. The same increase in mobile teledensity increases GDP by some 0.7
percentage points. And a 10% increase in broadband penetration can boost GDP by
an average of 1.3%.
I think it is therefore clear that ICTs will continue to play a pivotal role
in helping us emerge from the financial crisis, and in fuelling economic
Broadband infrastructure projects are a key part of many governments’
stimulus packages, and in the knowledge economy ICTs are directly responsible
for the creation of new jobs.
And I am certain that ICTs will continue to play a major role in the Arab
world, which has already demonstrated its resilience in the face of the economic
crisis, and which boasts such a vibrant and dynamic ICT sector.
ICTs are at the centre of everything we do in the modern world. They play a
vital and increasing role in education and health, in the workplace and at home,
and in creating government services that work for the people.
In every field of human endeavour, and in every crisis we face, including the
economic crisis, ICTs are part of the solution, not part of the problem.