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

Popov Room re-opening

25 October 2011, Geneva, Switzerland

Distinguished guests,
Ladies and gentlemen,

What a tremendous honour and pleasure it is to welcome you to the official re-opening of the ITU’s most important conference room, which has now been extensively refurbished.

This was made possible by the generous funding – to the tune of five million Swiss Francs – by the Russian Federation, through the National Radio-Technical Bureau, represented today by its General Director, Viktor Prikhodko.

With the refurbishment, the room has been renamed in honour of Alexander Popov – the leading Russian physicist and radiocommunications pioneer – and appropriately enough the Popov Room is now the most state-of-the-art conference facility in Geneva.

This of course reflects well on the ITU’s work as the United Nations Specialized Agency for ICTs, and allows us to offer full remote participation with video and audiocasts direct from the room.

Professor Popov – who looks down on the room from the rear right-hand wall to check that all is well with our meetings – would be pleased, I think. On the other wall, there is a depiction of the famous receiver Popov demonstrated in St Petersburg on 7 May 1895, which is now celebrated annually as ‘Radio Day’ in Russia.

Today, I am delighted to welcome His Excellency Igor Shchegolev, Russia’s Minister of Communications and Mass Media, along with His Excellency Ambassador Valery V. Loshchinin, who have both taken a keen interest in the technical facilities and the progress of the project.

The Popov Room was renovated by a local company, EDIFEA, in just 15 weeks, with Russian oversight from Svyazinvest, represented by  Deputy Director General Mikhail Kritskiy and Deputy Director of Regional Development Dmitry Shukov.

The refurbishment project involved more than 150 workers, who worked days, nights and weekends to fit this project into ITU’s busy timetable.

Thanks within ITU must go to:
  • Houlin Zhao, my Deputy;
  • to Peter Ransome and Alain Victor Mutwe, who managed the project;
  • and to Idrissa Samaké, Arnaud Guillot, Edmund Tam, Olivier Testoni, Ewandro Magalhaes, Jean-Claude Ajavon and Patrice Dumoulin – who all contributed to the project in great measure, together with their teams.

Let me also thank the architects, Olivier Gallay and Manuela Corti, who are with us here today.

Dear friends,

I have something of a small secret to share with you.

As with any large IT project, we needed to go through a period of testing these new and complex facilities to be sure that everything was working as it should.

I did not tell them at the time, but the people testing the Popov Room were in fact the ITU Councillors, who used this room over the past two weeks for this year’s meeting of Council, and who provided the most rigorous testing we could have hoped for.

As a result, we now have a list – and I am happy to say that it is a very short list – of final improvements, which are now being implemented.

From ITU Council 2011 we also have the first evidence that Professor Popov does indeed provide a benign influence, and allowed us to run a very successful meeting.

We were delighted to include remote video participation with interpretation, which will no doubt go on to inspire our membership for the future, and which has conclusively demonstrated the benefits of ICTs in bridging distance, in removing language barriers, and in helping address climate change issues.

Ladies and gentlemen,

In a short while we will be seeing much more of the power of technology, and indeed learn something of its history, when we inaugurate the ICT Discovery, over in the Montbrillant building.

In the meantime, however, let’s celebrate with Professor Popov, and let me once again give thanks, on behalf of ITU, to the Russian Federation for its generous support.
Благодаря нашим друзьям и сторонникам, России!

Thank you.