Excellencies, Eminent members of this table,
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen,
It is my great pleasure to welcome you all to this meeting.
This is the first time in its history that the United Nations Group on the
Information Society (UNGIS) is holding Open Consultations on the Financial
Mechanisms for Meeting the Challenges of ICT for Development – addressed to all
WSIS stakeholders, including international organizations, governments, private
sector, NGOs, others.
This meeting is hosted by ITU and organized jointly by the UNGIS Chair, ITU and
all UNGIS Vice-Chairs, meaning UNESCO, UNCTAD, UNECA, UNDP.
The time and the place of these consultations is not a coincidence.
Firstly, this meeting takes place during ITU Telecom World 2009, the most
important global event for the ICT industry, where global leaders from the
private and public sectors discuss global trends and policy options as well as
concrete projects. Many of them will use this occasion to contribute to our
discussion on the Financial Mechanisms as well.
Secondly, we are now one year into the financial crisis, which erupted in the
autumn of 2008, and which has taken its toll on the global economy and financial
markets, significantly impacting existing financial mechanisms fostering
development of the ICTs worldwide.
Fortunately, the ICT industry is fast moving, adaptive and resilient.
We observe that in many countries it stands to benefit from the large
investments announced by governments as part of their stimulus plans over recent
Thanks to several discussions with private sector leaders I had this week, I am
convinced that developing countries have a tremendous opportunity today.
Ladies and gentlemen,
As an African, my position is that for the past 50 years Africa has based its
development on three words: ‘help’, ‘assistance’ and ‘charity’. And I’ve never
seen anybody get out of poverty through charity.
Aid doesn’t work. And if you’ve tried something for 50 years and it hasn’t
worked, it’s certainly time to try something else.
As you know, the ITU is committed to connecting the world, and one of our main
missions is to enable the evolution of telecommunications and information
networks around the world – so that everywhere, people can actively participate
in the global information society.
That is why it is not surprising that ITU – whose mandate is to extend the
benefits of ICTs to all of the world’s inhabitants – took the leading role in
the organization of the key event of this decade: the World Summit
on the Information Society.
WSIS was an important landmark in the global effort to eradicate poverty and
achieve the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015.
Since the Tunis Phase of WSIS, much progress has been made.
In 2007, ITU organized the Connect Africa Summit, which was held in Kigali in
2007, and showed the extent of the commitment to achieving the WSIS goals.
Indeed, it was a huge step towards achieving an all-inclusive information
Partners at this meeting committed to investing up to US$ 55 billion in
infrastructure projects and technical assistance in Africa.
Such a high level of financial commitment, accompanied by very high political
support, makes us believe that it is feasible to develop financing mechanisms or
mobilize the financial resources necessary to achieve connectivity goals even
In this context, it is my pleasure to announce that we will be building on the
success of Connect Africa Summit with the next ITU Connect Summit, Connect CIS,
taking place at the end of next month in Minsk, Belarus.
2015 is just around the corner.
We therefore need to be more ambitious and aim to connect the unconnected
The biggest challenge we have is to deliver access to rural and isolated areas
that are not necessarily profit-making. How can we do that? This is our
Let us use this occasion to explore approaches for fostering ICT sector
development. Let us focus on concrete solutions and actions.
Taking a look at the agenda, and seeing so many prominent speakers with broad
experience in ICT4D issues, I am confident that this meeting will generate an
important contribution to the international debate on financing mechanisms.
I would like to thank you very much for your attention – and I wish you all
productive debates and fruitful discussions.