Information and communication technologies have transformed the global
landscape. They power the world economy and have become the great enablers of
modern society, helping people communicate across distances and cultural
divides, facilitating trade and commerce, and providing access to critical
resources such as healthcare and education.
Recent events around the world, in particular in North Africa and the Middle
East, have also highlighted the catalytic role that mobile phones and social
media can play in galvanizing public opinion against repression. And in
the aftermath of natural disasters that have struck with greater frequency and
force, we have seen how these technologies are a vital part of the aid response,
establishing lines of communication that can save lives, reunite families and
help emergency relief reach people in need.
The theme of this year’s observance, “Better life in rural communities with
ICTs”, highlights the need to harness the full potential of ICTs for the benefit
of the world’s rural population. Seventy per cent of the developing
world’s 1.4 billion extremely poor people live in rural areas. Their lives can
be transformed as we connect village schools to information and knowledge on the
Internet, bring telemedicine to far-flung rural health centres, provide accurate
weather information to farmers and fishermen, and supply up-to-date market
information to producers.
The International Telecommunication Union and its partners continue striving
to connect the world. I welcome these efforts, especially the drive to
bring broadband to every community. Broadband telecommunications will make
it possible to drive content to the remotest rural districts.
As we bridge the digital divide, we narrow the chasm that separates those
with and without access to information and knowledge, thereby broadening
opportunities for a better life. Greater access means earlier achievement
of the Millennium Development Goals. It means less poverty and hunger, and more
environmental sustainability. And it translates into greater equality and
empowerment for women and the underprivileged.
On this World Telecommunication and Information Society Day, let us resolve
to connect rural communities and the entire world to the digital revolution as a
means of achieving our development goals and fostering peace and prosperity for