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
17 March 2013, Mexico City, Mexico
Distinguished guests,
Ladies and gentlemen,

Once again, I am stunned by the passion and energy you all show for broadband. This has been a remarkable meeting, and I am still digesting your rich ideas and insights.

And above all, the passion and energy of our Chairs, Carlos Slim, and President Kagame, for his giving us their insights at the highest level.

I would like to express on behalf of all of us our sincere thanks to Carlos for making us so welcome in hosting this meeting, our debates today and the marvellous dinner last night in such a unique setting. Really, it was fantastic.

Because you really are making a difference by bringing broadband into people’s lives.

As I mentioned this morning, your Aldea Digital and Digital Libraries are showing your fellow countrymen and women and the world that broadband matters, and that broadband is important for the future competitiveness and welfare of your country and its people. And you are taking this worldwide with the Broadband Commission that you believe in.

Despite your very busy schedule, you have not missed one meeting of the Broadband Commission.

Thanks to you, many more children will be inspired to go to a Digital Library, log on, borrow a laptop, and learn more about the virtual world.  You are inspiring a new generation of Mexicans to learn about ICTs, to the benefit of all Mexico.

I am sure we can all learn from your good ideas, and indeed, I am taking away a lot from this meeting here.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I shall try and be brief, as we have covered a lot of ground today.

As broadband evolves ever more rapidly, it is ever more important that industry and policy-makers maintain a dialogue such as this to share our understanding, highlight our joint concerns, and focus on joint solutions.

As we have seen, it is not just broadband that matters – the Broadband Commission matters.  Together, we are succeeding in building real momentum around our message that broadband can help achieve the MDGs, sow the seeds of development and, even more importantly, enable people to improve and better their own lives.

We have two years’ further work ahead of us until 2015.  But in my view, this year’s work is the most urgent. As Helen Clark, Administrator of UNDP, updated us on Saturday, the UN is forging ahead right now with the consultative process on the framework for sustainable development.

We are on a countdown to 2015, with a thousand days left to determine the framework for sustainable development post-2015. Our brainstorming over lunch was most productive and full of rich ideas. The Broadband Café was indeed very good.

On 5 April, with a thousand days to go, I should like to see the Commission make a strong statement about the importance of broadband in the Sustainable Development Framework – perhaps in an Open Letter addressed to Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations. So I shall look forward to consulting with you on this.

I also welcome the launch of the Task force on Broadband post-2015 development agenda, chaired by my good friend Hans Vestberg, which will play a vital role in helping affirm the importance of broadband in the post-2015 framework.

I also welcome Under-Secretary Acharya’s call for the Working Group on LDCs to re-examine some of the issues and constraints affecting LDCs.

I am sure that some of the constraints in investment will be discussed at President Kagame’s Transform Africa Summit in Kigali at the end of October, as well as the rich business opportunities. So please note the dates – 29 October to 1 November in Kigali. Those of us who have been there will know that it is one of the three most cleanest cities in the world and there are many other things there as well as it being the cleanest city!

And who can forget Youssou N’Dour’s video? Youssou, with your music, you continue to put across far more eloquently some of the issues holding people back, as well as calling on people to rise up and take charge of their own destinies. Let’s all remember the date for your concert in Dakar in February 2014. Let’s move quickly to fix that date and we shall inform all the Commission members, and we shall put together a Committee and start working on this.

I’m delighted to see the Commission affirm the importance of broadband for persons with disabilities.

In our closing session, we heard about the valuable work of the Working Groups taking a deep dive in the areas of gender and youth, and my good friend Irina’s Working Group on Education on their excellent report, “Technology, Broadband and Education: Advancing the Education for All Agenda” which was launched at the Mobile World Congress in February 2013. Their findings certainly underpin much of what we saw yesterday, about the vital importance of engaging young children from an early age with technology. And as Irina noted yesterday, we need to train our teachers for gender-sensitive teaching.

As the first meeting of the Working Group on Broadband & Gender made clear yesterday, these opportunities must be equally open to both girls and boys, women as well as men, or we risk writing off half of the world’s people and failing to capitalize on their marvellous ideas.

I welcome the new target endorsed by the Commission to achieve gender equality in access to broadband by 2020, gained thanks to the hard work of UNDP and invited experts. I want us to challenge the world with a small slogan – 20 20 by 2020 – 20 Mbps below 20 US dollars by 2020. This is my little dream – Carlos Slim was telling me yesterday – it should be achievable.

Today, the Republic of Korea has the cheapest broadband in the world – so here’s the challenge; take it or leave it.

Broadband can significantly improve the social opportunities and economic prospects of women, and I welcome the work of this important group.

Finally, the Commission’s Working Group on Youth will host the Global Youth Summit in Costa Rica on 9-11 September later this year, and I invite you all warmly to attend.

Ladies & Gentlemen,

As always, it has been a pleasure to see you all, and I look forward to our next meeting together at the Yale Club in New York City on Saturday 21 September 2013.

I should like to call on you to support the remainder of the Commission's work through to 2015.

Let me extend a special thanks to the hotel staff – this hotel was simply fantastic – let’s give them a round of applause – and the Secretariat staff, who have worked so hard to support us and make this meeting a successful one and make our time so enjoyable and pleasant.

Thank you to all our Commissioners and Focal Points for joining us, as well as our Special Guests. This time, we had quite a number of Special Guests, and it was a good experience – your inputs were fantastic. And let me encourage you all to go out and continue the great advocacy work which this Commission is so good at.

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 all your support for this. But I wouldn’t like to close without thanking my own team – I feel very proud of them – as well as Carlos Slim’s team here on the ground, who were just phenomenal.

Thank you.