Committed to connecting the world


BDT Director's Speeches

24th Meeting of the Telecommunication Development Advisory Group
Geneva, Switzerland  03 April 2019


3-5 APRIL 2019





Madam Chair,
Distinguished delegates,
Ladies & gentlemen,

Let me thank our Secretary-General Houlin Zhao for his heartfelt tribute to our dear colleagues Marcelino and Mayganet. ITU has established a Solidarity Fund for the bereaved families, which I imagine many of you here may wish to contribute to. For those who are interested, my colleague Marie-Anne Pegorier can give you the necessarily details, and of course there are also Condolences Books at the ITU Tower and Montbrillant entrances where you can write your messages.

To honour the memory of Marcelino and Maygenet and their outstanding work for ITU, we are currently considering establishing a number of Fellowships in the name of Marcelino, as well as a sponsored Girls in ICT Prize in the name of Maygenet, to reflect the areas each was particularly passionate about. We hope that this might serve as a way for their names to live on and continue to inspire us all, as they always did when they were with us.

Dear colleagues,

I’d like to start this 24th session of TDAG by thanking you all for joining us today. I am delighted to see the faces of so many long-standing and valued colleagues, and also to welcome those delegates who are new to the Telecommunication Development Advisory Group. I hope the Newcomers’ Session you’ve just attended was helpful to you, and I look forward very much to getting to know you, and to collaborating with you on our very important work going forward.

This 24th meeting of TDAG is the first meeting of this group since ITU’s Plenipotentiary Conference in Dubai last year, and my first since my election as BDT Director.

Dear colleagues,

On Tuesday, we finished a two and a half day retreat of our senior management where we delved deep into some of our work. We first focused on the Regional Initiatives. We also looked at our programmes, resource mobilization, and discussed ways to be innovative.  We also discussed ways to ensure that we were doing the best we can to meet the needs of our members. We were delighted to be joined by the Secretary-General, the BR and TSB Directors, as well as the TDAG Bureau. 

Dear colleagues,

At the end of last year, we hit a milestone. Half of the world was connected by the end of 2018. This was indeed a great achievement and everybody celebrated.

But we really cannot celebrate, because half of the world is still not connected. That is why the mission and the mandate of BDT has never been more important.  And you, the members have told us at WTDC and the Plenipotentiary Conference that our mandate is about connectivity.  But we also know that we are not going to connect the other half of the world unless we look carefully at their needs. That we need to change the way we have been doing business, that we need to look at the regulatory approaches we have been using, we need to think differently, think creatively and we need to be more innovative if we are going to really make an impact on connecting the rest of the world. 

In addition, on the BDT side, it really means that we need to redouble our efforts. We have our work programme that you have defined for us. However, we need to work harder.  We need to redouble our efforts to make sure that we do make a difference in connecting the other half.  

And that is what we have been thinking about here in the BDT and at our management retreat.  We need to have a BDT that is ‘fit for purpose’.  Focusing on results, focusing on our customers and ensuring that we are matching our actions to what our customers, you the Member States, actually need.  We need to be rigorous.  We need to be transparent and we need to be honest in our evaluation of how well we are meeting these needs.  

So what are our strategic priorities?  How are we going to get there?  

By building on the following strategic priorities for the future of BDT:
  improved efficiency
  ​achieving regional relevance
  driving a culture of innovation throughout all BDT actions
  a greater focus on partnerships
  more effective capacity building, and
  data-driven thought leadership based on strengthening our statistic-gathering and analysis capabilities.

Dear colleagues,

In seven days, I will hit the hundred-day mark. In seven days, I will have been in office for 100 days.  What I did when I started on my first day was to come up with a 100-day-plan: the areas to focus on to kick us off during the first hundred days.  

My first focus area was collaboration. Collaborating between headquarters and the field and collaborating between the BDT, the TSB, the BR and the General Secretariat.  

The second area was to cluster our work.  You, the Member States, gave us 11 programmes.  You gave us 30 Regional Initiatives, and you gave us 14 Study Group questions as well as a number of other Resolutions. The first thing we did was to cluster our work thematically, connect the dots, and bring it all together.  

The next area was on skills and capacity.  To look at the skills and capacity that we have.  As well as to identify the skills and capacity that we do not have.  To this end, we have been leading a skills assessment exercise to see what skills we need in order to be able to deliver to you, the Members.  

The next area is partnership.  I am placing a very strong emphasis on partnerships.  We cannot do it all.  We have a limited budget and resources; we need to work with you, the Members.

The next area is communicating impact.  We need to shift the way we communicate.  We need to put a human face on the work that we do.  In addition, through all of these areas, we need to be listening.  Above all, we need to be listening.  That is what I have been doing during my 93 days in office.

I have carried out a number of missions to Member States, starting first in Saudi Arabia. Then I travelled to Ethiopia, to Thailand, and Mauritius.  I met with many members and held many bilateral meetings. I have had some 100 bilateral meetings, during the World Economic Forum event and at Mobile World Congress, at our own Global Emergency Telecommunications event in Mauritius, and the UN meeting the week before last.  It is important to listen.  I have also been listening to my colleagues.  We need to hear from you about your needs.  Here, with the team in Geneva, and in the field, we have so far had three town hall meetings, where we exchanged ideas.  I also opened up an email suggestion box for my staff called ‘ideas to connect’.  I have been thrilled with the great ideas that have been brought to my attention that we can move forward on.

The other area that we have not touched on, and one that we need to focus on, is the area of youth.    Our Members, through WTDC Resolution 76, spelled out what we need to do.  You also have through Plenipotentiary Resolution 198, giving us further instruction, but to date we have not done that much, we need to do more.  What can we do?  That is where we look to you to help us.  Should we create a Youth Advisory Group?  Should we try to have a first Youth TDAG in 2020?  Could we even imagine having a Youth WTDC in 2021?

​We have come up with innovations to foster greater dialogue with you. I am grateful to the TDAG Chair for having embraced these innovations. The regional colleagues are here, in addition to the Directors, there are other colleagues from the field.  You will have the opportunity to talk to them in informal sessions, which start this evening.  We will have informal chats with the regional colleagues, looking at the Regional Initiatives and we have a chance to talk about some of the challenges they are facing. We hope it will be an interactive exchange. 

On Friday, in the afternoon, we will have a report-back to see what we learned and discovered from those informal sessions.  We are also going to have some breakout sessions. During the first sessions, we will tackle four issues including partnership and resource mobilization, regional presence, and Study Groups.  In the second round, we will look at programmatic topics, ICT data, statistics and information building.  We hope the sessions give us new ideas, new approaches and we will discuss them together as a group.

Dear colleagues,

I do hope that we can all work together to really strengthen the impact of our work and ensure that we implement the Buenos Aires Action Plan.

I thank you very much.