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

ITU TELECOM WORLD 2009: Heads of State / Ministers Roundtable
Geneva, Switzerland
5 October 2009

Ladies and gentlemen,

I am delighted to welcome you to the first of two Heads of State and VVIP Roundtables on the occasion of ITU TELECOM World 2009.  We are particularly honoured to have with us today the President of Rwanda and the Prime Minister of Lesotho, and a number of Ministers representing their heads of state. 

We are honoured to have you here to share your unique perspectives on the changes and challenges we face as we move towards a truly global information society.

The ITU has always been a pioneer.  From the telegraphs of yesterday to the high-speed mobile networks of today, ITU has endured through social, economic and political changes, while facilitating cross-border cooperation and extending the benefits of information and communication technologies to all of the world’s peoples.

The current economic downturn is no exception. ITU provides an ideal platform for sharing knowledge on how to address the realities of the new economic climate, particularly as information and communication technologies are seen as vital to global recovery and growth. 

This is why I have chosen the topic for this afternoon’s roundtable to be ICTs and economic development. I look forward to hearing the visions and insights of the leaders gathered around the table, and would like to express my personal gratitude to them for sharing their time and experience with us.

Not only does the expansion and innovation of new ICTs stimulate economic development, but they also broaden the scope of individual and social progress.  No one can deny that the presence of such technologies in daily life have brought about tremendous benefits for health care, education, employment and overall quality of life. It has enhanced access to knowledge and know-how on an unprecedented scale.

So why not take the opportunity that this presents us, and ensure that these communication technologies have the widest possible reach, connecting all of the world’s citizens in a safe and empowering manner? Why not use ICTs to help us face this time of crisis head on?
Ladies and gentlemen,

We are here today, to debate these issues, through a focus on 5 key themes.

  • The first is the role of regulation and policy in promoting the roll-out of infrastructure and stimulating investment.

  • The second is the importance of public-private partnerships to address the gaps and inequalities in today’s information society. 

  • The third is the issue of cybersecurity, and how global efforts for tackling it can be meaningfully strengthened in light of current economic conditions.

  • The fourth is the recognition that innovation and creativity are critical for providing opportunities for economic recovery and growth.

  • And last but certainly not least, is the need to enable (through capacity building) all of the world’s citizens to participate in, and benefit from, the knowledge-based economy.

Let’s get started.