Hamadoun Touré, of Mali, holds a Masters Degree in Electrical Engineering from the Technical Institute of Electronics and Telecommunications of Leningrad as well as a doctorate from the University of Electronics, Telecommunications and Informatics of Moscow. He began his career in 1979 at the Office des Postes et Télécommunications du Mali, and, before joining ITU, gained more than twenty years of experience, particularly in the field of satellites. From 1985 to 1996 he worked with INTELSAT, managing its rapid expansion in Africa and the Middle East. He then joined ICO Global Communications as Director General of the Africa Region to drive the introduction of Global Mobile Personal Communication Systems to the continent.
The 1998 Plenipotentiary Conference in Minneapolis elected Touré as Director of ITU’s Telecommunications Development Bureau, and he was re-elected by the Marrakesh conference in 2002. He supervised implementation of the action plans agreed by ITU’s World Telecommunications Development Conferences held in Valetta in 1998, Istanbul in 2002, and Doha in 2006.
Touré also made significant contributions to transforming the regulatory environment for telecommunications. He saw the creation in 2000 of the Global Symposium for Regulators, which brings together regulatory authorities from developing and industrialized countries. He also cultivated public-private partnerships to mobilize resources for development. With this aim, he promoted the ITU Connect series of events, with the first, Connect Africa, held in 2007.
The Plenipotentiary Conference in Antalya in 2006 elected Touré as ITU Secretary-General. He was elected for a second term at the conference in Guadalajara in 2010. In his acceptance speech, among his critical objectives Touré named expanding the availability of broadband infrastructure “for all citizens, including those living in the most challenging places.” Later that year saw the creation of the Broadband Commission for Digital Development, a joint project by ITU and UNESCO.
As a follow-up to the 2007 Connect Africa event, ITU organized a Transform Africa summit in 2013. It adopted the SMART Africa Manifesto (later endorsed by all member states of the African Union), with the goal of accelerating socio-economic growth through information and communication technologies.
In 2015, following his retirement from ITU, Touré returned to Mali where he was appointed as Founding Executive Director of the SMART Africa Alliance, using his wealth of experience to help put the manifesto into effect.