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ICTs for a Sustainable World #ICT4SDG

BDT Director's Speeches

WTDC-14, Opening Speech (English)
Dubai, UAE  30 March 2014


30 March 2014,

Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Opening Ceremony

Brahima Sanou

Director, ITU Telecommunication Development Bureau


•            Your Excellency Mr Mohamed Al Qamzy, President of the United Arab Emirates' Telecommunications Regulatory Authority,

•            Your Excellency, Dr Mohamed Al Ghanim, Director-General of the United Arab Emirates' Telecommunications Regulatory Authority,

•            Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, Ministers,

•            Your Excellencies, Ambassadors and representatives of the diplomatic corps,

•            Ladies and Gentlemen, Heads of delegations representing Member States and Members of the Development Sector,

•            Dr Hamadoun Touré, Secretary-General of ITU,

•            Mr Houlin Zhao, Deputy Secretary-General,

•            Mr Malcom Johnson, Director of TSB,

•            Mr François Rancy, Director of BR,

•            Distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen,


Good day to you all, and may peace be with you!

It is an honour and a great pleasure for me to welcome you to the Sixth World Telecommunication Development Conference.

To begin with, I would like to express my profound gratitude to the authorities of the United Arab Emirates for their exemplary hospitality, their warm welcome and the very good working conditions they have created for us.

Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Since our last World Telecommunication Development Conference, held in Hyderabad in 2010, we have witnessed rapid growth and expansion of telecommunication and ICT networks and services.

As I am sure we all agree, our sector is one of the most resilient and innovative, and has been among the fastest growing economic sectors over the past decade.

So I congratulate all of you – our Members – for providing conducive and appropriate policy, legal and regulatory frameworks that have opened the doors to more private sector investment in the ICT sector.

The past decade has been one of enormous changes.

We experienced the global financial crisis which shook our confidence and undermined traditional points of reference. We are now, fortunately, seeing tangible signs of economic recovery.

We have also witnessed a surge in social media in recent years.

ICTs have accelerated and expanded our access to information and enhanced our ability to create and exchange information.

ICTs have helped to improve service provision by governments and the private sector, and made services more effective and efficient, more accessible, and, above all, increasingly affordable.

ICTs have changed our lives forever.

             Being connected has become a necessity for all, and using ICTs an essential skill: before long, at least 95 per cent of decent jobs will require ICT skills.

Distinguished delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Hyderabad Action Plan adopted in 2010 has helped us to achieve great things. Thanks to your commitment, your passion, and your partnerships, we now have many "success stories" to tell.

Over the four years of implementing the Hyderabad Action Plan, we have continued to gather together all the world's regulators and share best practices in support of convergence in the areas of ICT terminals, infrastructure, services and service providers.

Between 2002 and 2011, we recorded an average of 394 natural disasters a year, or more than one a day. We have therefore continued to provide assistance in the field of disaster risk reduction. We have sent telecommunication equipment to disaster-affected countries in order to help with organizing rescue operations and humanitarian relief.

In 2011, we launched a digital literacy campaign for women in collaboration with the Foundation.

I am pleased to report that we have been able to train over one million women at the bottom of the development pyramid.

We have launched key partnerships, in particular with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the private sector, to promote the use of ICTs in health services, and we will continue to do likewise in other areas such as education.

We have continued to make available to our Members reliable and up to date statistical data to help them in making policy, regulatory and investment decisions.

We have, for the first time ever, quantified the real size of the digital gender gap and estimated that 30 per cent of the world's youth can be considered "digital natives".

Global economic losses due to cybercrime were estimated at between USD 300 billion and 3 000 billion in 2013. It is estimated that more than one million photos and other images of child victims of sexual abuse and exploitation are currently available on line.

Building confidence and security in the use of ICTs therefore remains one of our top priorities.

I am happy to tell you that on this front, we have continued to play our full part as a catalyst through initiatives and programmes which we are implementing to improve cybersecurity in every country and facilitate international cooperation.

We have provided assistance to more than 30 countries to help with the transition from analogue to digital broadcasting, and assisted more than 43 countries with spectrum management.

Between 2008 and 2012, the cost of fixed broadband fell by 82 per cent. We have continued to assist countries in developing and implementing strategies and master plans for the deployment of broadband infrastructure and services.

Since the last WTDC in 2010, we have trained more than 20 000 people from more than 120 countries.

I have personally launched three major initiatives, and I will have more to say about these when I present the Hyderabad Action Plan implementation report. But I can already tell you that together, we have made real changes in people's lives. This is an honourable mission, and we should all be proud of our accomplishments.

Nevertheless, despite this progress, significant challenges remain. Some 92 per cent of those who are still not connected to the Internet live in developing countries.

They have no idea what the Internet is, nor do they know that ICTs can change their lives fundamentally and in a positive way.

Our mission is therefore far from accomplished. That is why we are here today.

Here we are.

Here in Dubai, one of the most beautiful cities in the world, we must make the bold decision to continue working together to promote digital inclusion and empowerment of all people, including young people, the elderly, persons with disability, and other vulnerable or disadvantaged groups in society.

Here in Dubai, home of the Burj Khalifa – the world's tallest building – we must commit ourselves to reinforcing public‑private partnership and exploring innovative possibilities for development in order to overcome the challenges ahead.

To me, challenges are nothing but opportunities. So let us seize the opportunities that lie ahead of us to make the world a better place!

As the late Nelson Mandela – "Madiba" – said in 2009, "information and communication technologies are the single most powerful tool we have for human progress".

Let us therefore work together to put this powerful tool in the hands of ordinary people.

Thank you.