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BDT Director's Speeches

Commonwealth Broadband Forum 2015
Abuja, Nigeria  01 July 2015




“The Future of Broadband“

Abuja, Nigeria 16-17 June 2015

Your Excellences,
Dr. Tunji Olaopa Permanent Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Communication and technology
Dr Okey Itanyi, Executive Commissioner in NCC.
Professor Tim Unwin, Secretary General, Commonwealth Telecommunication Organization
Distinguished participants, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure to be here today and deliver a keynote speech on the Future of Broadband. I would like to thank Prof Unwin inviting me and the Government and the people of Nigeria for the warm welcome.

My presence here today is very important to me for two reasons: first, I am here to express my strong support and personal commitment to continue working with CTO and CTO membership as Director of ITU Telecommunication Development Bureau; Second, I am here to share with you my thoughts about the future of broadband as a way of contributing to this important forum.

It is a fact that Broadband has become the main socio-economic driver. Broadband and secure connection to the Internet, through new devices, such as smartphones, tablets, and smart meters, and new online services, have dramatically changed the way we live, interact and do business.

The new figures we just published in ITU demonstrate that the ICT sector have seen unprecedented growth over the past 15 years, opening up huge opportunities for social and economic development.

There are currently over 7 billion mobile subscriptions worldwide, for a population estimated at 7.2 billion. This means that there will soon be an average of one mobile subscription per inhabitant.

The number of Internet users worldwide stands at 3.2 billion, of which 2 billion live in developing countries. In the five years from 2010 to 2015, Internet penetration has increased almost sevenfold, from 6.5 to 43 per cent of the global population.

The proportion of households with Internet access has risen from 18 per cent in 2005 to 46 per cent in 2015.

In 2015, 69 per cent of the global population will be served by a 3G mobile broadband network, and we are now seeing the rapid extension of 3G mobile broadband into rural areas.

As you can see, the figures concerning the progress of broadband and ICT at large speak for themselves. More importantly, behind the figures I see people. I see the very young boys and young girls, I see women and men, I see people with disabilities, and I see the elderly who all rely on ICT to change their lives.

I also see an economic reality driven by an active and innovative younger generation. This economic reality is particularly significant for developing countries since it enables them to seat at the round table of global service provision.

Despite all the progress, rural and remote areas remain largely unconnected as they face challenges of attracting private sector investment. The absence of regional connectivity between states with access to submarine cables particularly in the challenging geographic conditions of Small Island Development States and landlocked countries need special attention.

Distinguished participants ladies and gentlemen

Looking at Broadband in the prism of the future, one could see the following.

1. On infrastructure side, we will have a combination of optical fiber and satellites and alike. Mobile access will be the first way of accessing to broadband. The 4G access technology and soon the 5G, will put unprecedented computing power in the palm of our hands.

2. We will move from owning infrastructure and devices to the usage of them. We will be more inclined to pay for the usage than for the ownership. We will rely more and more on cloud computing.

3. The development of broadband in developing countries will heavily depend on the usage of broadband-enabled services for provision of basic services such as e-health, e-education, e-agriculture and e-commerce. We all need to put a human face on the ICTs in order to enhance their usage for development.

It is again this background that I launched the m-Powering Development initiative. Prof Unwin, who is one of the Commissioners of the Broadband Commission for digital development, has accepted to seat on the Advisory Board of the m-Powering Development initiative because he believes like me, that we should capitalize on the widespread of mobile telephony in developing countries to channel development programmes.

4. It is foreseen that 26 to 50 billion mobile devices will be connected and interconnected by 2020. The Internet of things or Internet of everything, the SMART everything such as SMART cities, SMART transport, SMART Water management and Big Data will create new business cases and new business models. The lifetime of business models will become shorter and shorter.

5. Cybersecurity will continue to be a big challenge as we continue to interconnect men-to-machine and machine-to-machine. The feeling of freedom of expression and interaction with unlimited number of persons in the cyberspace will continue to overweigh the issue of privacy for the young generation that we call the digital natives.

6. The landscape of regulation and service providers will change because we are living in an era of convergence of telecom/ICT infrastructure, services and service providers where the telecom/ICT industry has become broad and diverse. We are also witnessing the emergence of new players without any regulatory or infrastructure legacy, the displacement of revenues, and the changes in business models for service provision.

Ladies and gentlemen

In order to cope with the future of broadband and broadband-enabled services and support it we need:

1. New policy and regulatory frameworks that will embrace the new ICT ecosystem. For example, ICT regulation is not enough to regulate e-Health because health sector has also got its own regulation. We need bridges in the regulations that may lead to other settings of regulation and regulatory bodies.

2. Capacity building will continue to be an issue. It is estimated that in the near future 95% of the decent work will require ICT skills. Digital economy requires digital users. This is a common challenge of ICT ecosystem to be addressed particularly in developing countries.

3. Partnerships will be key to any and every success. ICT has become the underlying sector of all other sectors. We need to extend the public private sector partnership to include all stakeholders and cross-sectoral partnerships.

For all this to happen, all the stakeholders, governments, regulators, telecom/ICT operators and service providers, consumers, academia, civil society need to change the way they interact with each other in order to create a new environment and a new deal.

To conclude I would like to summarize by saying that broadband will continue to open unprecedented opportunities for development and business. The ICT ecosystem will continue to grow with a bigger variety of players.

Finally all players and stakeholders will need to not only think innovative, but also to innovate their way of thinking.

As Director of BDT, I remain committed and ready to work with CTO to open the door to the wealth of possibilities of the ICTs.

I thank you