Committed to connecting the world

ICTs for a Sustainable World #ICT4SDG

Speech by ITU Secretary-General, Dr Hamadoun I. Touré

African Ambassadors Meeting

29 November 2010, Geneva, Switzerland



Good morning,

It is a pleasure to be with you here today in Geneva.

As I am sure you are aware, it is not long since we returned from ITU’s major decision-making conference, the 2010 Plenipotentiary Conference, which was held in Guadalajara, Mexico, in October.

As I am also sure you are aware, I was reelected Secretary-General, and I am deeply honoured by this vote of confidence expressed in me by the governments of Africa.

It is a strong endorsement of my leadership of this great institution and I look forward to continuing to reform and modernize ITU over the next four years, with your continuing support and goodwill.

I should like to outline some of the landmark decisions and milestones achieved at the ITU Plenipotentiary Conference, even if they are relatively recent, and we are still working through their implications.

Despite a record number of contributions, 91% of which were received late, I am pleased to confirm that we were able to publish, track and process all contributions in all six languages according to our official procedures in time.

I am convinced that the outcomes of the Plenipotentiary Conference leave ITU in good shape to face the future. Indeed, one of the most important outcomes was the approval of sound strategic and financial plans for the period from 2012 to 2015.

We passed many other important resolutions, addressing important subjects including:

  • Accessibility;
  • ICTs and climate change;
  • Strengthening regional presence;
  • Measures to help prevent the illicit use and abuse of telecommunication networks;
  • Conformance and interoperability;
  • Emergency communications and humanitarian assistance;
  • The admission of Sector Members from developing countries;
  • Bridging the standardization gap;
  • Opening up the way for the participation of academia in the Union’s work;
  • Special measures to assist Small Island Developing States and Landlocked Developing Countries;
  • Electronic meetings;
  • We also made a tremendous step forward in granting Palestine enhanced rights of participation as an observer in future ITU meetings and conferences.
  • A Council Working Group was also set up to work on creating a stable constitution for the ITU, and the Conference agreed the preparatory process for the WCIT event which will be taking place in 2012.
  • Fresh impetus and direction was given to the ITU Telecom event, which will now take place annually, on the basis of a competitive bidding process.
  • and many more…

At PP-10, ITU Member States were also able to broker a compromise on a number of key Resolutions on Internet issues, which strengthen and underline our commitment to work with the Internet community. ITU carries out vital work enabling the interconnection of public telecommunication networks over which Internet services are provided. Obviously, our expertise in PSTN architecture and numbering has considerable relevance to Internet public policy issues. 

In Guadalajara, I myself made a personal appeal to delegates to call for greater collaboration and coordination between ITU and relevant organizations, including ICANN, regional Internet registries, the IETF, ISOC and W3C. As we move from words into action, I count on your support to help ensure this collaboration between ITU and the Internet community concrete, real and meaningful. It is only of benefit to the online information society if the telecom and Internet communities work together more closely.

At the Plenipotentiary Conference, delegates also expressed their broad support for the work and aims of the Broadband Commission for Digital Development launched by ITU and UNESCO earlier this year.

The Broadband Commission unites leading CEOs from major operators and companies with top-level representatives from the UN sister agencies, and the public sector to distil cutting-edge thinking about the role of ICTs and broadband in achieving development goals.

The Commission aims to emphasize that ICTs generally, and broadband more specifically, can drive economic recovery.

Future service delivery in health, education, business, trade and government will all rely on broadband-enabled platforms, so countries must plan for a future built on broadband.

The Commission has held two meetings so far, and published a report containing recommendations to the United Nations Secretary-General with regards to boosting progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals, as well as developing a wealth of online resources and best practices promoting the roll-out and take-up of broadband.

The work of the Commission has been well-received by the UN and ITU Member States, and is, I believe, of critical importance in shaping ICT development across the African continent.

Finally, to anyone who may feel that a second term of office is  a good opportunity to rest on one’s laurels gained in the first term, rest assured: I have plenty of enthusiasm and drive and ideas about future directions I feel ITU should pursue!

And I welcome any comments, insights or questions you may have.

Thank you.