Speech from Dr Hamadoun I. Touré, ITU Secretary-General
I am very pleased to join you today at this Ministerial Segment.
The subject chosen for this Segment – ‘National Strategies for Innovation,
Promotion of Competitiveness and Growth through ICT’ – is both timely and
Four years ago in Tunis, governments stressed the importance of national
e-strategies, including ICT strategies, as an integral part of national
development plans and poverty reduction strategies.
They encouraged those governments that have not yet done so to elaborate
comprehensive, forward-looking and sustainable national e-strategies as soon as
possible – and before 2010.
Over the past four years, many countries have made significant progress in
recognizing ICTs as a key component of their development plans – and ICT
strategies increasingly reflect all possible sources of innovation which ICT may
There are still a number of countries which have some way to go, but I am
confident they will use the remaining year effectively, and that their efforts
will be concluded in time for the WSIS mid-term review.
The powerful role of competition has also been broadly recognized as a vital
enabler of investment in the ICT sector – and is undoubtedly one of the key
components of establishing a converged market environment and stimulating
Back in 1997, only around 40 countries authorized competition in the
provision of basic services; within a decade that number had risen to about 110
The most competitive area of all is mobile services. It is not surprising,
therefore, that the number of mobile cellular subscriptions has skyrocketed –
and will reach 4.6 billion by the end of this year.
Given the highly dynamic and innovative ICT sector, it is also no surprise to
see that mobile broadband subscriptions globally overtook fixed line subscribers
last year, highlighting the huge potential for the mobile internet.
Indeed, by the end of this year, we expect to see almost 10% of the global
population with a mobile broadband subscription.
A competitive market environment is key to promote investment, spur growth
and extend connectivity. Removing market entry barriers and promoting open
access policies is likely to further accelerate market development and provide a
win-win scenario for investors, service providers and consumers alike.
There is also 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%.
Let me therefore conclude this short introduction and invite our honourable
representatives of eleven countries to present their views on approaches for
innovation, promotion of competitiveness and growth through ICT, applied at the