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ICTs for a Sustainable World #ICT4SDG

Conformity Assessment Workshop for Asian Developing Economies

Dhaka, Bangladesh, 1 February 2012

Welcome Comments

Ladies and Gentlemen

Firstly I would like to offer my gratitude to the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) for initiating this workshop, and the Bangladesh Accreditation Board (BAB), and Bangladesh Standards & Testing Institution (BSTI) for co-organising the event, the government of Bangladesh for hosting it, and my colleagues in the World Standards Collaboration (WSC) for joining us here.

ITU is the lead UN agency for informationa and communication technologies – ICTs. Its standardization sector (ITU-T) has three main objectives:

  • To develop interoperable, non-discriminatory, international standards
  • To assist in bridging the standardization gap between developed and developing countries
  • To extend and facilitate international cooperation among international and regional standardization bodies.
Enabling the interoperability of ICT products is one of standardization’s core principles. Products developed in accordance with ITU standards should provide the interoperability needed for users of these products to make use of them anywhere in the world, regardless of who has manufactured them and who is offering the service.

A lack of conformity and interoperability of ICT products is a major problem – especially for developing countries.

To address this ITU has implemented a conformity and interoperability programme consisting of four key elements of the programme: (1) a public database that will list products compying to ITU standards; (2) interoperability testing events between various manufacturers’ products; (3) capacity building; and (4) assisting in the establishment of regional or sub-regional test centres in developing countries.

But this problem cannot be solved by ITU alone. That is why I am very pleased UNIDO has been able to bring together all the international organizations that need to work together. ICTs are essential for businesses, economies, and citizens. It is essential therefore that a conformity assessment scheme is established for ICTs world-wide.

In the future, in ITU testing specifications will be developed in association with all new standards. It is important that we define more interfaces where interoperability can be tested. This will increase competition for vendors, decrease costs, and reduce the chances of being locked into a single vendor’s product.

It is essential that we understand the conformance and interoperability concerns of each region. In that way we can identify the tools to address their unique concerns. This is why this workshop is important, and I hope it will be the first of many in other regions of the world.

Our capacity building events – so far in Kenya, Ghana, Ecuador, India and Russia – have been an excellent way to share this information with developing countries and learn from experiences of others. We are committed to an ongoing programme of training and consultation events.

In addition - the fourth element of the programme - is to help establish regional or sub-regional test centres. We are currently working with a number of countries that are interested in establishing these, and we have a pilot project in Tanzania.

Together, these steps will reaffirm the importance of conformance and interoperability, and alert vendors and users of the many benefits of conformance to ITU Recommendations.

ITU is committed to working in consultation with its membership and in collaboration with other international organisations on this important topic.

We are working on a C&I Portal intended to cover a wide range of issues including links to all those entities, laboratories, certification and accreditation bodies, SDOs and similar databases.

It is particularly important that developing countries participate in the standards making process. Only by being involved will it ensure their particular requirements included in the standards, and only by being involved is it possible to gain an understanding of these complex standards and know how to implement them. This is why ITU is making every effort to include all its 193 countries and over 700 private sector entities in this process. We do this by offering remote participation to our meetings, having meetings in the regions, offering fellowships, and since last year a reduced membership fee for companies in certain countries (including Bangladesh) of just $4000 a year instead of $31,800. We also from the start of last year offer membership of ITU to academia. I am pleased to say we have over 30 universities already joined. Again a low membership fee is available to universities in developing countries: just $2000 a year.

I very much hope that Bangladesh and the other countries represented here will take advantage of these new opportunities and become involved in ITU’s standardization process.

I wish you all a very productive and enjoyable workshop.