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BDT Director's Speeches

"Fostering Innovation and Partnerships in Human Capacity Building: Enhanced Engagement of Academia in the Work of International Telecommunication Union", Opening speech
Prague, Czech Republic  28 April 2014

ITU Academy Event


"Fostering Innovation and Partnerships in Human Capacity Building:

Enhanced Engagement of Academia in the International Telecommunication Union"

ITU welcome address

by Mr Brahima Sanou,

Director, Telecommunication Development Bureau, ITU

Prague, Czech Republic

28-29 April, 2014


Prof. Pavel Ripka, Dean, Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Czech Technical University in Prague, Czech Republic,

Distinguished participants,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is my pleasure to welcome you to this event in the historic city of Prague. First of all, allow me to thank the Czech Republic, as well as the Czech Technical University in Prague, for the kind hospitality.

I am pleased to be here today and it is a real honour and privilege to address this diverse audience. I would like to thank you all for responding positively to my invitation and for participating in the event.

As you may know, we just returned from the sixth World Telecommunication Development Conference, which was held in Dubai. This ITU Conference, which is held every four years, sets the agenda for information and communication technologies development for the coming four years.

In Dubai, delegates reaffirmed that building widespread ICT literacy as well as human and institutional capacity in the development and use of ICT networks, applications and services are key to enable people to access and contribute to information, ideas and knowledge.

In this regard, the Conference adopted three key resolutions pertaining to capacity building.

Resolution 40 establishes the Group on Capacity Building Initiatives, made up of capacity building experts from the membership to support and advise the Director on capacity building matters.

Resolution 71 encourages Member States, Sector Members, Associates and Academia to participate actively in all initiatives of the ITU Telecommunication Development Sector and to identify means of enhancing cooperation and arrangements between the private and public sectors in all countries.

Resolution 73 calls upon Member States, Sector Members and Academia to participate in the ITU Centres of Excellence activities, including through the provision of recognized experts and training materials. I am proud to say that, today, 63 academic institutions are part of the ITU family. This meeting therefore stands out in its significance as the first post WTDC event to address capacity building issues raised in these resolutions.

Distinguished participants, Ladies and Gentlemen,

The ICT landscape is rapidly changing. I am sure that we all agree that the ICT sector has been one of the fastest growing, most resilient and most innovative sectors of this decade.

ICTs have accelerated and widened our access to information and improved our capacity to create and share information. ICTs have definitely changed our lives.

On the other hand demand for ICT skills is outstripping supply, thus creating a growing ICT skills gap in the market. It is estimated there will be as many as 900 000 unfilled vacancies for ICT professionals by 2015 in OECD countries. It is also estimated that 95% of the decent jobs in the world will require ICT skills in the near future.

The ICT skills shortage is a challenge we cannot take lightly. It would be unfortunate if the gains to human development brought about by ICTs are to be threatened by the lack or shortage of skills in the same sector. This challenge highlights the importance of human capacity building.

Every day we witness an extraordinary evolution in the way education and training are provided. The education system itself has been redefined. There are almost no more purely traditional, academic methods of education. E-education is becoming as important a face-to face education. The surge of social media is becoming a new parameter of the ecosystem of educational system.

When I launched the ITU Academy in 2012, it was not only to offer a wide and growing range of general and specialized training courses on all aspects of telecommunications and ICTs, but also to harmonize and integrate all existing human-capacity services of Standardization, Radiocommunication and Development sectors of ITU under one umbrella.

More importantly however, the ITU Academy is a platform for sharing training and all capacity building opportunities seamlessly. The platform will enables the sharing of standardized training materials across the globe, and this makes it possible to monitor the quality of the training materials that are shared. I see the ITU Academy as a platform where government and private sector training institutes, and Academia come together to share and streamline their capacity building efforts.

The ITU Academy has already track record of success. Since 2010, more than 20'000 people from more than 120 countries across all regions were trained under the ITU Academy umbrella, through various channels such as Centres of Excellence partner institutions.

On average 160 courses are run annually under the Centres of Excellence, with approximately 60 per cent being distance learning and 40 per cent face-to-face. We also have a network of about 80 Internet Training Centres globally, jointly run with CISCO, and these have trained  close to 45 000 people in 2013 alone. These trainings have helped to enhance ICT skills and improve employment prospects.

The ITU Academy has been witnessing the power of collaboration through the work that has been done in the development of training materials. More than 50 experts from the private and public sectors, industry associations as well as from academic institutions from all over the world were involved in the development of our Spectrum Management Training Programme (SMTP).

I would like to thank the Czech Technical University in Prague, for being one of the institutions that voluntarily peer-reviewed some of the SMTP modules. We have now embarked on the development of training modules in the area of Quality of Service, and I am also happy to say that the expert who has developed the report on the Framework for these modules is from this University.

We are looking forward to strengthening this kind of cooperation and this event is one such way of reaching out the Academia and other stakeholders.

I believe that there room to widen the scope of collaboration with the Academia. These high level training materials we develop are resources that could be used by Universities as part of their training materials and curricula, with the advantage of the accreditation that goes with University programs.

This would be a win-win collaboration that would respond to the needs of our members for knowledge and recognition.

In the first quarter of 2015, we will hold the Global ICT Forum on Human Capacity Development. The Forum will address issues related to "Opportunities for Capacity Building in an era of Mobile Technologies". It is my hope that the Academia will be active players in this forum as they are centers for research into technologies and applications, including mobiles.

Distinguished participants, Ladies and Gentlemen,

The ITU Academy and the Academia need to work together as both parties have a common objective: to build and develop human and institutional capacity for all. Its success depends on your cooperation, expertise, and commitment, as well as your enthusiasm. Strengthened partnerships are critical in attaining our common vision of a world where everyone can benefit from ICTs. I hope that all of you as well as other stakeholders do share in this vision.

Mahatma Gandhi once said:  "Constant development is the law of life, and a man who always tries to maintain his dogmas in order to appear consistent drives himself into a false position".

The Academia has always been associated with constant development since time and memorial. It always breaks new ground, brings innovative ideas and remains the main source of technological advancement. Being from a constantly developing environment such as ICT sector, ITU has a special relationship with the Academia and I would like to see this relationship strengthened.

On this note let me conclude by wishing you success in your deliberations and I hope that this event will be very fruitful.

With these words, it is my pleasure to declare this event officially open.

Thank you.