Committed to connecting the world

ICTs for a Sustainable World #ICT4SDG

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

ITU Asia-Pacific Regional Development Forum

 Opening Session

 Opening Speech

29 April 2013, Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Distinguished colleagues,
Ladies and gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure to be here with you in beautiful Cambodia this morning for the Asia-pacific Regional Development Forum – and I am looking forward very much to a busy day of fruitful discussions and deliberations on the development agenda for this vibrant region.

As you know, ITU’s mission is to connect the world, and to bring the benefits of ICTs to all the world’s people, wherever they live and whatever their circumstances.

This we do together with our 193 Member States and more than 700 sector members from industry, academia and civil society organizations.

I firmly believe that if we can succeed in achieving our mission, then we will see unprecedented social and economic improvement for all, and that we will continue to make bold steps in accelerating progress towards meeting the Millennium Development Goals – and indeed other sustainable development goals as we move forward.

We can be proud of the progress that has already been made, and especially the progress made in the first twelve years of the new Millennium, especially in mobile cellular telephony.

The next goal is to bring affordable, equitable access to the Internet to all the world’s people – bearing in mind that two thirds of the world’s population is still offline.

And being offline, means that two thirds of the world’s people are locked out of global market places and global access to the world’s knowledge banks, and locked out of the enormous benefits which can come from applications such as e-health, e-education and e-government.

Distinguished colleagues,

The importance of broadband to all countries – and especially developing countries – was made very clear at the World Conference on International Telecommunications, WCIT-12, which took place in Dubai last December.

The new ITRs which were agreed at WCIT-12 contain a number of important revised and new provisions that represent a major improvement over the 1988 text – including provisions for landlocked developing countries and small island developing states, and provisions for the 650 million people worldwide living with some kind of disability.

Perhaps most importantly, the treaty reflects the increasing participation of developing countries in ITU’s work across all three sectors: radiocommunication, standardization, and of course development.

There are also provisions to encourage investment in international telecommunication networks and promote competitive wholesale pricing for traffic carried – and I am confident that this will play a very important role in furthering broadband rollout around the world.

If broadband rollout is to happen at the rate needed, the ICT industry will need the right incentives and will need to be able to see clear returns on their investments.

This will therefore mean devising new and innovative business models, and new and innovative delivery mechanisms – and I will be very interested to explore this subject in more detail during this forum today.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The importance of bringing the rest of the world online is one of the main reasons why ITU and UNESCO set up the Broadband Commission for Digital Development three years ago.

At the end of 2011, the Broadband Commission established four ambitious but achievable broadband advocacy targets, covering policy, affordability and uptake.

The first of these targets aims to help make broadband policy universal by 2015, and we have already seen considerable success in this regard, with 145 governments that have adopted or are planning to adopt a national policy, strategy or plan to promote broadband.

In this regard I am very pleased to note that the Kingdom of Cambodia is adopting its National Broadband Policy with technical assistance from ITU.

With the help of enlightened regulation, national broadband policies such as the one being implemented here in Cambodia, increased user demand, and new technologies – such as mobile broadband – I am confident that we will succeed in meeting all of the targets.

As we meet our connectivity targets, however, we need to make sure that we also keep the Internet safe and secure, and this means addressing cybersecurity issues, which are a growing concern in all countries.

The most recent statistics suggest that losses of over 100 billion dollars annually are being caused by cybercrime, and that some 550 million people are being targeted by cyberattacks every year.

In financial terms, this is the equivalent of the entire GDP of a country like Morocco, Slovakia or Bangladesh – and in population terms, it is the equivalent of more than all the inhabitants of Europe.

We must therefore work together to set international policies and standards, and to build an international framework for cybersecurity and cyberpeace.

At ITU we are proud of the ITU-IMPACT initiative, which is the first truly global multi-stakeholder and public–private alliance against cyberthreats, which already brings together more than 140 countries – including of course Cambodia and most of the other countries in this region.

To be truly effective, however, such initiatives must also include participation from all stakeholders, including both the public and private sectors, as well as international organizations and civil society.

Indeed, if we are succeed in any of our ambitions then we will need all stakeholders to work together, in partnership – and I look forward to hearing more today and over the coming days about ways in which we can do this across Asia and the Pacific region.

In closing, let me thank you for your attention, and I wish you a very successful Forum today and a very rewarding Regional Preparatory Meeting over the rest of the coming week.

Thank you.