Committed to connecting the world


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

ITU Telecom World 2012


    Youth and Leaders Debate

Panelist Remarks


17 October 2012, Dubai, UAE


Ali Jazairy – Head of Innovation and Tech. Transfer Section, WIPO

Hamadoun Touré – Secretary-General, International Telecommunication Union

Sarah Lamb – Consultant TechNet & MSDN Editor Microsoft, Founder of Girl Geek Dinners, UK

Didier Fass – Associate Professor, ICN Business School and LORIA Nancy University, France
Linkesh Diwan – Young Innovator 2012, Crisis Care Solutions, Portugal

Syed Ahmed – Young Innovator 2012, Gradberry, UAE

Distinguished guests
Ladies and gentlemen,

What a pleasure it is to be here this afternoon, surrounded by so many bright and inspirational young people – thank you for including an old man like myself!

Ladies and gentlemen,

Young people today face unique challenges, unlike those faced by my generation. There are many more of you, you are better educated, and you are competing for fewer jobs.

Competition is tougher than ever.

Indeed the International Labour Organization now estimates that there are 75 million young people worldwide who are unemployed.

But you – the hyper-connected generation – have the edge. Yours is the first generation who see ICTs as an integral part of your being.

Social media, online gaming, audio and video streaming – and the fact that technology has taken real-life, physical relationships into the online realm – has completely changed the way younger generations think and interact.

On-demand information and communication has become essential – indeed, most young people who have access to it, consider it a basic commodity in the 21st century.

Your connectedness offers fantastic opportunities for engagement and empowerment as information is accessed, used, created and shared to form the knowledge society.

This is all happening in real-time across vast geo-political barriers. Through your use of technology you have already become major players on a global stage.

Ladies and gentlemen,

It has been incredible to watch as the voices of young people gain prominence and recognition worldwide – most noticeably through your ability to mobilize en masse.

ICTs have given you a voice, but have also created new and exciting opportunities the likes of which we are only just beginning to imagine.

I see a new generation of entrepreneurs, business people, commentators and experts being born online – and all of this has been made possible by the unique catalyst of broadband Internet connectivity.

Young people will benefit from the fully-networked society in ways that we cannot even imagine today – and I am personally looking forward to seeing where the extraordinary marriage of technological advance and human brainpower will lead us.

Because the Internet continues to be the biggest and best incubator for ideas, creativity and business that the world has ever known.

Anyone in the world – thanks to the Internet – can adopt the Silicon Valley model, where people meet people; where ideas meet money; and where possibility becomes reality.

Technology hubs are now springing up across the world, as governments and the private sector attempt to harness the potential and genius that is human innovation.

That is the driving force behind sessions like this one, here in Dubai, and behind competitions like the ITU Telecom World Young Innovators Challenge.

The idea is to expose people to a real-life incubator in action, and to encourage time and investment in this life-changing industry.

To those young people here today participating in the Innovators Challenge, I would like to say ‘good luck’ – and it is fantastic having you with us.

I look forward to seeing your creativity come to life!

Thank you.