Committed to connecting the world

ICTs for a Sustainable World #ICT4SDG

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

Saint Petersburg State University of Telecommunications

26 May 2011, Saint-Petersburg, Russian Federation


Dear Chairman of the Academic Council,
Dear Members of the Academic Council,

It is a pleasure for me to be today here, in Saint Petersburg, at my native university where many years ago I gained my first higher education diploma, together with you, my teachers, and the nomination of my modest personality for the title of Honorary Doctor of one of the oldest and biggest academic and scientific centres not only in Russia, but CIS as well, is a great honour to me.

The warmest of feelings have overwhelmed me on this occasion. In spite of the fact that I am already an Honorary Doctor with several CIS universities, this nomination has a particular significance to me.

Dear Members of the Scientific Council

On this occasion, I would like to say a few words about Dr. Krivosheev.

First of all, he is not only one of the most authoritative experts at the international level, and is almost a legend at ITU, but he us also … my teacher.
And I'm proud of that, as the Russian Federation should be proud of such people.

I am therefore particularly pleased that the attribution of the Honorary Doctorate of the University to both myself and Dr Krivosheev should fall upon the same day.

Dear Mark – I wish you long life and continued professional well-being.

Dear Members of the Academic Council,

As you know, Russia was one of the founding members of ITU, almost 150 years ago. And since the founding of our organization, Russia has always taken a very active part in ITU’s activities.

In recent years, with the support of the Administration of the Russian Federation, ITU has adopted a number of important decisions on issues such as Internet policy and international telecommunications.

I would also like to note that my candidature for the post of Secretary General of ITU for a second term was put forward not only by my own country of Mali, but also by Telecommunications Administration of the Russian Federation; my second home, as His Excellency Mr Shchegolev, Minister of Communications and Mass Communications of Russia, and a good friend of mine, said recently.

I am very grateful to him for those words and I can only confirm them: indeed, Russia really is my second home.

Many years ago when I was a student, I worried a great deal about presenting my diploma project, and now I am standing in front of you – Members of the Academic Council – and I am even more worried now than I was then, since I have to speak in front of so many famous researchers, and I feel a special responsibility speaking at my native university. And in general, my stay in this city recalls the many pleasant moments of my studies, my student life, about the beautiful city where I was educated, got married and where my eldest daughter Mariam was born.

Now my spouse and my eldest daughter, realizing the importance of this ceremony, are here in order to support me.

Dear Members of Academic Council,

I wish now to share with you, in short, my thoughts about prospects of ICT sector development and global initiatives of ITU as leading UN agency for ICT. I would also like to tell you about what I have been doing daily over the past 13 years – first as ITU BDT Director, and then, starting from 1 January 2007, as ITU Secretary General.

Over the past few years the CIS region is the most dynamically developing region in the area of ICTs, and in mobile communications in particular.
I am very glad that the Governments of the region have identified ICTs as a priority direction of development of their economies, widely involving the potential of scientific people, institutes and universities in addressing various problems of ICT evolution in the region. And there is a share of your work in the successes which have been achieved.

Dear Members of Academic Council,

Taking into consideration various aspects of global ICT development and ITU’s role in this process, I would like to focus on several directions of ITU activities.

Considering the influence of the ICT sector on the economy of countries there is no doubt that broadband will be the next breakthrough. Broadband has acquired a vital significance for ensuring social and economic progress in the 21st century and will become one of the basic infrastructures – similar to roads, water- and power-supplies.

Broadband changes everything, providing the possibility for implementation of not only such important new applications as VoIP and IPTV, but also delivery of such essential services as e-health, e-education, e-education, e-commerce and e-government.

The importance of broadband is explained not only by fast operations, but by the fact that with broadband you are always “on-line”.

In this area we are facing serious challenges, in particular where broadband access is not only limited but also very expensive.

According to recent statistics published by ITU just last week, at the WSIS Forum in Geneva, there are still 32 countries of the world where broadband access fees account for more than 50% income per capita per month – making it far too expensive for the great majority of people in those countries.

ITU carries out work on a wide range of initiatives which aim to improve the global accessibility of ICT, and broadband in particular, and at the same time decrease the cost of such access.

That is why ITU announced the “Build on Broadband” initiative, and we are very proud to be playing a key leadership role in the  UN ‘Broadband Commission for Digital Development’, which is co-chaired by President Kagame of Rwanda and Carlos Slim of Mexico, with myself and the Director General of UNESCO as co-vice-chairs.

Broadband technologies provide access to the world’s wealth for everyone all over the globe. But at the same time they open new “holes” for wrongdoers, and for cybercriminals in particular. We should not forget about this.

Bearing in mind the scope of the threats, ITU took a leading role in the coordination of global efforts in this area, and as far back as in 2007 launched the Global Cybersecurity Agenda. Cybersecurity matters were also reflected in the ITU Plenipotentiary Conference held in Guadalajara, Mexico, in 2010.

Now there are more and more cases when children become the targets for various criminals including paedophiles. Each year we see growth in the number of crimes against children in the Internet environment.

In connection with this, we therefore developed the “Child On-Line Protection” initiative, which was launched by ITU in partnership with other interested parties.

Dear Members of Academic Council,

I have spoken in short about the most crucial ITU global initiatives such as Cybersecurity, Child Online Protection, and Broadband. These initiatives cover global problems which can only be addressed with support from all ITU Member-States. And this is my daily work.

Speaking in this university, I would like to mention that there are several ICT/telecom universities in CIS such as Moscow Technical University of Communications and Informatics (MTUCI); Odessa National Academy of Telecommunications named after Popov; and Kyrgyz Technical University, which actively collaborate with ITU and are ITU-D Sector Members.

Now, I believe, my university will also support these ITU initiatives, and take part in discussion of these important problems and, of course, will participate in all ITU activities.

I have a dream. I dream of ourselves, working together in the spirit of mutual cooperation, respect and trust, to create such a world where we could feel comfortable irrespective of our place of residence, language, nationality or faith.

Let us work together towards implementation of this dream

I am sincerely glad to be here and grateful to you.

Thank you.