Opening Speech by Brahima Sanou, Director, ITU Telecommunication Development Bureau
Opening Ceremony at WTIS 2016
21 November 2016,Gaborone, Botswana
Your Excellency, Mr Mokgweetsi E. K. Masisi, Vice President of the Republic of Botswana
DR. Omponye Coach representing Mr Onkokame Kitso Mokaila, Minister of Transport and Communications,
Honourable Ministers and Deputy Ministers here presents,
Mr Thari G. Pheko, Chief Executive, Botswana Communications Regulatory Authority, and Chair of WTIS-16,
Mr. Abdoulkarim Sumaila, Secretary General of ATU
Representatives of ITU-D Sector Members
Distinguished guests, Ladies and gentlemen,
First of all I would like to convey to all of you the sincere apologies of Mr. Houlin Zhao, the Secretary General of ITU, who had planned to be us today but could not make it at the last moment for reasons beyond his control. On his behalf, on behalf of my other colleagues Elected Officials and on my own behalf I would like to welcome you to the World Telecommunication/ICT Indicators Symposium (WTIS-16).
On behalf of all of us I would like express our deepest gratitude to the Government and the people of Botswana for hosting WTIS-16, for their legendary hospitality extended to all of us and for the excellent facilities put at our disposal.
It is not surprising for those of us who have been in Botswana before. Their sense of care and hospitality actually is reflected in one of Botswana's sayings, which is "Do not look where the harvest is plentiful, but where the people are kind".
On 30th of September this year, Botswana celebrated its 50 years of independence. For those of us here who are coming from countries that have centuries of independence, 50 years may not mean a lot. But let us remember that Abraham Lincoln once said: "In the end it is not the years in your life that count. It is the life in your years".
Botswana has put a lot of life in its 50 years of independence that allowed the country to graduate from being a Least Developed Country on 19 December 1994. Botswana was the first country in sub Saharan Africa to establish an independent regulatory authority.
Congratulations to you for your 50th anniversary of independence!!!
Distinguished participants Ladies and Gentlemen,
The WTIS has become a very influential forum. Our work is not limited to indicators on telecommunication networks, and ICT access and use.
Our work is highly relevant outside the ICT community, as ICTs are helping accelerate the attainment of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals and their 169 targets.
While every year, every month, every week and every day, we are making progress, there are still over half of the world's population that is not using the Internet.
Our Ministerial Roundtable will discuss means of connecting 'the bottom of the pyramid' of our communities. I would to thank the ministers who have joined us today to share their views.
Tomorrow morning, we will launch the Measuring the Information Society Report 2016. The report has become one of the most authoritative sources for ICT data and for monitoring the development of the information society.
This year's report takes a look at the ICT indicators that will help track progress toward the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
We will also announce the results of the latest ICT Development Index, the IDI. The IDI is a benchmarking tool that aims to assist you in evaluating achievements in your country.
Through the IDI, we can learn from one another, share and adopt best practices to boost the development of ICTs in our respective countries.
Last year, I commissioned an independent assessment of the IDI. The conclusion of this independent assessment was very bold on the soundness of the IDI methodology and indicators.
However, as technologies advance and more data become available, we continuously work to improve the IDI indicators and I pleased to announce that we have set up a special IDI working group to review the indicators included in the index.
During WTIS-16 we will also present the updates of the Expert Group on Household and the Expert Group Telecommunication and ICT Indicators that last met in September of this year, in Geneva.
These two groups are incredibly important to our work since they deliver the technical expertise on how to capture technological advances through new definitions and methodologies.
These groups combine the experience and perspective from the public and the private sector and provide an excellent opportunity for knowledge sharing and exchange.
I also look forward to the discussions on digital literacy, 5G and other emerging topics. We will also discuss ICT indicators to monitor disaster risk reduction. This is an area where ITU is playing a critical role in taking advantage of the opportunities of ICTs to save lives.
As in the last year, we are dedicating a session on the topic of big data, where ITU has developed a number of concrete projects.
This includes 'big data for monitoring the information society' project to overcome important data gaps. Several pilot studies are currently being carried out and countries will discuss the possibilities of using big data to provide new insights into key development issues.
Honourable Ministers, Directors generals
Although we have made great achievements in strengthening national and regional cooperation, and improving the quality and quantity of ICT statistics, we must continue to review challenges, and stay abreast of technological developments.
I take this opportunity to thank all the Member States, International Organizations, industry, and experts that support the work of ITU in the area of statistics.
We are all here today because we all agree with Lord Kelvin when he said that: "If you cannot measure it, you cannot improve it."
Let us use our good work and WTIS to track ICTs for sustainable development.
I thank you.