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ICTs for a Sustainable World #ICT4SDG

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

Third Meeting of the Broadband Commission for Digital Development
Closing Remarks

6 June 2011, Paris, France

Distinguished Commissioners,
Ladies and gentlemen,

Thank you so much for your participation in today’s meeting.

I would very much like to thank Irina Bokova and UNESCO for hosting this meeting, and for giving us the opportunity to meet here in Paris.

I would also like to thank the Commission’s co-chairs, President Kagame of Rwanda, and Carlos Slim, for their expert guidance and joint chairmanship.

As during the first meeting, we had a busy agenda, and I am pleased we got through everything we had to cover.

I particularly appreciated the discussion we had on measurement and targets, and was glad to get a comprehensive update on the eight working groups.

I would like to single out the E-Agora, which looks like an excellent way of fulfilling the Commission’s mandate to provide a repository of best practice, and I look forward to seeing future developments in this regard.

The first roundtable, chaired by Irina Bokova, demonstrated the tremendous interest shown by commissioners on empowering women and youth in LDCs, and highlighted the importance of education in advancing socio-economic development.

Broadband is a transformative tool that can amplify the benefits of good education systems – but also the defects.

So let’s work hand in hand with the experts on education to make sure that broadband will be a constructive force. And to further develop content adapted to local context and language.

This afternoon we looked in more detail at business models.

And what came through time and time again, for me, was that there is an enormous dependency – or perhaps I should say co-dependency! – between the public and private sectors.

Even among the dissenting voices, there was no denial that government had an important role to play – even if that role was just to keep out of the way, and keep taxes down!

This was an excellent debate, and it showed me the real value of this commission, as a place for healthy debate and constructive conversation.

I also have to say – and this is not just in my role as ITU Secretary-General – that there do seem to me to be clear places where government can play an important role.

In helping to address the affordability gap. In facilitating market forces. In addressing market failures.

I was also impressed by the astonishing pace of change, highlighted by the dramatic rise of lower-cost, pre-paid broadband, which could bring broadband access to another billion people – and to other initiatives such as O3B which aims to address access for a huge swathe of humanity.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I wish you all a safe onward journey and would like to thank you all again for coming today.

Most importantly, I am already looking forward to seeing you again in Geneva and to welcoming you to our next meeting and the Broadband Leadership Summit in October.

As I said in my first remarks this morning, it is time to move beyond reports, and to focus on concrete projects; real on-the-ground initiatives; and innovative, grass-roots solutions.

Let’s make a difference where it really counts: in the homes and the lives of the billions of underserved people everywhere.

We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity here. Let’s not blow it.

Instead, let’s create a:

bold broadband future!

Thank you.