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ICTs for a Sustainable World #ICT4SDG

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

ITU-T Standardization and other key ITU Activities

8 February 2011, Havana, Cuba


Good morning

I am honoured by this opportunity to be with you today in the beautiful city of Havana. It is a nice change from Geneva where it is very cold at this time of year. This workshop was organised by Malcolm Johnson and his team and I know he would have liked to have been here with you, but unfortunately for him he is attending the TSAG meeting in Geneva. He extends his best wishes to you.

We very much appreciate the increase of participation of CITEL countries, especially Latin American countries, in our work. Over the past years, we have benefited from offers to hosts Study Group meetings, workshops and symposiums, as well as the 2009 Kaleidoscope Conference in this region. I very much hope this level of activity will continue and increase over the coming years. We aim to have more events in the region and are extremely grateful for the kind offer of Cuba to host this event.

As players from certain regions of the world increase their influence in the development of ITU-T global ICT standards, major players, SMEs and academia from Latin American and Caribbean countries risk being left behind… There are 22 companies in the region registered among the top Fortune 500 telcos, but not all have discovered the benefits of membership. Beneficial membership fees may apply for some developing countries and a new category of membership for academia has been recently announced.

We have a major commitment to reach out to both non-members and the membership of this region and this year we will convene a regional preparatory meeting for 2012’s WTSA/WCIT.

This is a crucial time for the industry. Today, we find ourselves in an era of transition, seeking to cope with the many challenges of a new digital world.

The last two decades have witnessed the ascendancy of the Internet touching upon nearly every facet of our lives, professional and private; they have heralded the privatization of the telecommunication market in many countries, the rise of telecommunication regulators around the world and the advent of mobile telephony. Any single one of these trends can be described as revolutionary.

In this digitally converged era, where the marginal cost of providing information over many of our networks is virtually zero and precepts of charging customers according to time, distance or call duration are evaporating, many of the traditional assumptions on which our telecommunication business models are based no longer apply. Today, a single search algorithm or revolutionary piece of software can now overturn an established industry worth many billions of dollars in the space of a few years.

This is why the International Telecommunication Regulations (ITRs), the international treaty governing telecommunications between countries that was adopted 22 years ago is being revised by the ITU at a World Conference in 2012. This topic will be covered in more detail tomorrow.

Also on the agenda here are conformance and interoperability. Whether for IPTV, video, home networking, telepresence, mobile phone chargers, access and transport technologies… ITU standards are the result of detailed international discussions which have included many developing countries. These talks take into account various aspects of technologies, including IPRs, maturity, stability and market adoption, leading to standards that provide for high quality and low cost.

Conformity to these standards will foster an environment where service providers can pick and choose equipment from a variety of vendors, and will greatly increase the probability of interoperability. This will increase competition and bring down costs... something especially important in developing countries.

Increasing the participation of developing countries is something we have worked very hard on in the last few years… aiming to bridge the standardization gap. Our agenda here is especially tailored with topics that are of great importance to developing countries, namely international Internet connectivity; ICTs and climate change and accessibility to ICTs for those with disabilities.

We will also see a review of the implementation of the important decisions of WTDC-10. Many of the Resolutions from WTDC-10 will have a profound effect on, and contribute to the development of projects in the region for the improvement of the network and the availability.

I hope you find the programme interesting and look forward to seeing you all soon.
Thank you