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

The Broadband Commission for Digital Development 

Closing Remarks 

02 April 2012, Ohrid, Macedonia

Distinguished guests,
Ladies and gentlemen,

Let me abandon formality here – and say quite honestly that we have really had a great day together here!

Indeed, it has been much more than a day, of course – because we had an excellent opportunity to network at the wonderful reception yesterday evening with the President and the Prime Minister… and I am certain that we will have another wonderful evening together today.

We arrived here with snow in the air and a cold wind blowing over the lake – but today we have glorious sunshine and glorious views across the water. I do not claim that we can influence the weather, but I think this is a very good sign!

This has been the fifth full meeting of the Commission, and once again I find that after these amazing conversations my mind is brimming with all the good ideas I have heard, the inspirational thoughts, and the incredible energy that has come through our discussions.

As John Davies said earlier this morning, this really is a ‘magic room’ – a magic room that has facilitated dialogue, and created something that is once again so much more than the sum of its parts.

It has been wonderful to catch up with familiar friends, and to welcome new friends to the Commission – when we meet again in September I hope that we will have a full complement of Commissioners, including all of the new members.

Before I close, I wanted to reflect on what is maybe just an accident of abbreviation.

I am referring to the fact that we very often abbreviate our name to the ‘Broadband Commission’ – but it is clear at each of our meetings that what we are really most concerned about is ‘Digital Development’.

Because it is true: we are not interested in broadband, but in what broadband can do.

We are interested in what broadband can do in terms of empowering citizens, opening up new markets, and enabling vast numbers of small- and medium-sized enterprises to do business better and smarter in the 21st century.

As an incredibly diverse group of people from very different working environments, this is where we find the most common ground.

If I go back to the opening remarks this morning, President Kagame spoke powerfully of the need to empower people wherever they live, and of the empowering ability of broadband to give everyone an equal chance.

Carlos Slim spoke of the need to make sure that broadband was used as an engine for creativity and innovation and job creation – especially through the agency of SMEs – and of the growing importance of digital content.

And my co-vice-chair, Janis Karklins, spoke of the importance of applying universal principles of freedom in the virtual as well as the real world.

These sentiments were echoed throughout the day, with a lot of discussion not just on skills, but on employability; and not just on infrastructure, but on local content and local languages.

The Macedonian Prime Minister and Minister Ivanovski both touched on the extraordinary difference that broadband is making here, in this beautiful country, not just on the supply side, but also on the demand side too.

Let me therefore encourage you all to go out and continue the great advocacy work which this Commission is so good at.

Ladies and gentlemen,

As always, it has been a huge honour and a tremendous pleasure to have been a part of this Broadband Commission meeting, and I am already looking forward to our next meeting together in New York in September.

In closing, let me therefore thank once again the Government of Macedonia for hosting this meeting, and for the excellent organization and logistics. Really, we could not have hoped for more!

Let me extend a special thank you to the local staff who have worked so hard to make this meeting a success, and to the Secretariat staff, who have as usual given 100 per cent to support us.

Let me also thank you, the Commissioners and Focal Points, for joining us here in Macedonia.

Thank you – all – and I wish you a safe and pleasant return home. But first, I believe we have a chance to continue enjoying the wonderful local hospitality…

Thank you