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ICTs for a Sustainable World #ICT4SDG

Engagement of Sudanese universities in ITU activities

​Khartoum, Sudan, 23-24 October 2012

Welcome Address

Your Excellency, Dr. Tahani Atia, State Minister of Science and Communications
Professor Zohir, Under Secretary, Ministry of Science and Communications
Mr. Nadir Gaylani, Acting Director General of Sudan’s National Telecommunications Corporation (NTC)
distinguished guests
Ladies and Gentlemen

Salaam Alaikum, good morning and welcome to this workshop to discuss and extend the “engagement of Sudanese universities in ITU activities”.

Greeting from ITU Secretary-General, Hamadoun Touré.

It is a great pleasure to be here in the historic city of Khartoum and I would like to thank most sincerely the Ministry of Science and Communications and the NTC for inviting us here to present the work we are doing in ITU and the opportunities for Sudanese private companies and universities to participate in the work.

I am very grateful for NTC’s kind hospitality and especially Mr Babikir and Mr Mustafa for all their efforts in organizing our visit.

Sudan is a very active player on the international stage. Ambassador Dhirar, Sudan’s ambassador to the UN in Geneva has shown great interest in our work.

Mr. Gamal Amin ELSAYED and Mr. Mohamed Mohamed Khair Almobark ELHAJ are active members of the leadership team of two of our Study Groups and they have my support for their reappointed in Dubai next month at the World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly.

In recent years Sudan has seen a substantial increase in mobile subscriptions. According to ITU statistics from less than 10 per cent of Sudan’s population in 2000 to roughly 56 per cent now, but only 20 per cent of Sudan’s people are currently using the Internet, and less than 5 per cent doing so through broadband, so there clearly is still much to be done.

ITU’s mission is to connect the world and we will do everything we can to facilitate the development of Sudan’s ICT infrastructure.

One way is through increased participation in the activities of ITU.

In particular increasing the participation of developing countries in the standardization process – bridging the standardization gap - will help greatly.

Participation in the ITU-T’s activities ensures that developing countries’ requirements are taken into account in the development of new standards.

Standards can be very complex documents and so a thorough understanding can best be achieved by participating in their development. And it is only through an understanding of these standards that experts can chose the ones that suit their needs best, and know how to implement them.

I am very pleased to report that we continue to see increasing participation from developing countries at almost every study group meeting.

In 2010, the participation of developing countries in Study Group meetings exceeded that of developed countries, for the first time ever.

Over 40 new countries have participated since 2007 – 16 new countries last year alone.

ITU standards are the basis of the modern telecommunication infrastructure and without them the Internet simply would not work.

A telephone call for instance, a service we now take for granted, is simply not possible without the ITU numbering system.

The codecs used to compress voice and video, the signaling system used to initiate and terminate connections, the modems that give access to Internet, and the fibre optic broadband transport networks all rely on ITU standards.

The economic advantages of standardization, from economies of scale, to increased interoperability, and the creation of a level playing field allowing start-up companies in developing countries to enter a global market.

To narrow the standardization gap, ITU-T offers reduced membership fees to organizations from certain developing countries including Sudan, and provides fellowships covering the cost of travel and accommodation to attend our meetings. We also offer online “remote participation” for those unable to attend our meetings, whether in Geneva or elsewhere. We have also introduced regional groups for ITU-T’s study groups: to ensure that each region’s unique concerns are reflected in our work; and make it easier to contribute regional proposals.

Equally important is the task of bringing developing-world innovations to the attention of international standards developers. This is the purpose of our Focus Group named, “Bridging the Gap: From Innovation to Standards”. We also run a number of challenges to come up with innovative ideas, the winner receiving a cash prize and an opportunity of their idea being commercialized with one or more of the big companies that are ITU members.

We are also assisting developing countries to establish national standardization secretariats. These are important to coordinate ICT standardization activities at the national level, and develop contributions to ITU.

The participation of academia in the work of ITU-T is something that I have promoted very much as it is particularly beneficial to ITU’s standardization work as well as to the universities that participate in it. Most innovation comes form academia and so its participation in our work will give a more long-term perspective of future standards requirements.

Academia’s participation in the standardization process will ensure those responsible for innovation play a formative role in determining how their innovations are reflected in standards and public policy.

Academic membership is available with a fee structure affordable to academic establishments in developed and developing nations.

We welcome and encourage academia’s participation with open arms. I am very much looking forward to our visit to the historic University of Khartoum tomorrow. It has an enviable reputation and I very much would like to see it becoming an ITU academic member.

Ms Rouda Alamir Ali from the Arab Regional Office will provide some more details in a presentation later and Ms Sabrina Camp from the Telecommunication Standardization Bureau is also here to answer your questions on the application process and how to get involved.

Shukran, thank you, and I wish you all a very productive workshop, and look forward to Sudan’s increased participation in ITU.