Committed to connecting the world

ICTs for a Sustainable World #ICT4SDG

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

   Broadband Commission for Digital Development

Closing Remarks


23 September 2012, New York, USA

Distinguished guests,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Well, I can say quite honestly, we have had a remarkable day together here!

This has been a very diverse, thought-provoking and intriguing meeting.  We have heard from some very inspiring people, with lots of fresh thinking.  And I always benefit from the incredible energy that comes through our discussions.

Because our work is becoming more urgent.  As Chairman Genachowski observed this morning, the costs of digital exclusion are rising.  Professor Jeff Sachs observed we are losing 700,000 children a year to malaria needlessly – if we can only get the operational connectivity rolled out to help make health information systems work.

And I should like to commit personally to convening a virtual meeting in October and to bringing all the partners together face to face, in Africa next year to help on Jeff’s network.

We are on a countdown to 2015, but the true timescale is even more urgent than that – every month matters, when we are “on the cusp of a breakthrough”, as Jeff said. 

The rate of technological change is accelerating.  The speed with which regulation evolves will have to change too.  [That’s partly what the WCIT is all about].  I don’t know about you, but I am being required to work faster – and to work smarter - everyday.  And I am sure you are too, based on what I have seen here today!

And as the rate of change is accelerating, as we heard from the young entrepreneurs this morning, it is now possible to build a big idea online or a successful company or a credible initiative in very little time.  All you need is energy, passion, commitment, and enthusiasm to convince people of the value of your cause.

And that is where I hope the Broadband Commission can come in.  We are continuing to build something big here – with energy, passion and commitment.  And I am grateful for your support for this.

Ladies & Gentlemen,

If I go back to the opening remarks this morning, Carlos Slim spoke of the essential importance of SMEs in building countries’ digital competitiveness, a vital observation underlined by Mr. Moreno of the IADB.

And my co-vice-chair, Irina Bokova, spoke of the importance of embedding broadband in societies and ensuring access by all, including women and girls.  Irina noted that the Commission has the power to bring together a unique mix of people from the public and private sectors.

Geena challenged us to launch a Working Group, and I am delighted to say that the Commission rose to that challenge admirably.  I wish to thank Reza Jafari for his very generous donation, and we look forward to further updates from the private sector members of the Commission.

As always, it has been a huge honour and real pleasure to have been a part of this Broadband Commission meeting, and I am already looking forward to our next meeting together in Mexico City in March.

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 made every effort to support us.

Allow me to thank you, Commissioners and Focal Points, for joining us. And let me encourage you all to go out and continue the great advocacy work which this Commission is so good at.

I wish you a pleasant stay here in New York and safe journey home. But I believe we are going to enjoy our informal reception first.

Thank you to all of you.