Speech from Dr Hamadoun I. Touré, ITU Secretary-General
ICT4ALL Forum - Tunis+4 - Ministerial Segment

24 November 2009, Hammamet, Tunisia


Distinguished colleagues,
Ladies and gentlemen,

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 appropriate.

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 offer.

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.

Distinguished colleagues,

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 growth.

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 countries.

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 national level.

Thank you.