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
Preparatory Meeting for WTDC-14

 Opening Ceremony 

 Opening Speech

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

First of all, let me wish you a very happy Khmer New Year: Chaul Chnam Thmey!

We are very grateful to the Government of the Kingdom of Cambodia for hosting this WTDC-14 Regional Preparatory Meeting for Asia and the Pacific.

Indeed this is a perfect venue for this meeting. As I mentioned yesterday, during the Regional Development Forum, it is always a tremendous pleasure to be here in Phnom Penh, a city rich in culture, tradition and charm, and to benefit from the warm hospitality of the Cambodian people.

This regional preparatory meeting gives us a very welcome opportunity to listen to you, our membership, and to hear the issues that you want to see discussed and addressed at the WTDC in Egypt next year.

It gives us the chance to look at the concerns specific to this region, and to build a clear picture of your ideas about the future of ICT development here in Asia and the Pacific.

Let me also express my gratitude to the BDT staff for their tremendous efforts under the leadership of the Director, Brahima Sanou. They have all been working hard to ensure the success of this and the other regional preparatory meetings for WTDC-14.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I firmly believe that we can succeed in achieving our mission to connect all the world’s people, and that in doing so we will see unprecedented social and economic improvement for all.

As we move forward, we will continue to make bold steps in accelerating progress towards meeting the Millennium Development Goals – and indeed other sustainable development goals beyond 2015.

We have really made the most extraordinary progress in the first twelve years of the new Millennium.

In the year 2000, around half the people in the world’s richest countries had a mobile phone, and mobile penetration in this region was just 6.4%.

Today there are some 6.4 billion active mobile phone subscriptions globally, and mobile penetration in the Asia and Pacific region is now close to 90%. Here in Cambodia, mobile cellular penetration is even higher, and approaching 150%.

At the beginning of the Millennium, around 280 million people used the Internet worldwide. In not much more than a decade that figure has grown almost ten-fold to reach just over a third of the world’s population.

And yet we still have a long way to go.

Because two thirds of the world’s people – some 4.5 billion people – are still offline.

This means that:

  • Almost two thirds of the world’s people are still locked out of the world’s biggest and most valuable library.
  • Almost two thirds of the world’s people are still refused access to the world’s biggest market place.
  • And almost two thirds of the world’s people are still denied the extraordinary opportunities now available to the other third.

Distinguished colleagues,

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.

We now have close to 60 Broadband Commissioners – all leaders in their field – representing governments, industry, academia and international agencies, and they are doing great work in advocating the importance of policy leadership.

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

I would therefore like to take this opportunity to share with you some of the key achievements and highlights of the new ITRs which were agreed at WCIT-12.

The new treaty contains a number of important revised and new provisions that represent a major improvement over the 1988 text.

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.

One of the most important new articles in the ITRs, in my view, is the revised Article 6, which will help 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.

I would also like to highlight the new Articles 8A, which will help to improve energy efficiency and reduce e-waste, and new Article 8B, which will help bring the benefits of ICTs to the 650 million people worldwide who are living with some kind of disability.

As with many of the other new provisions, these articles demonstrate the clear emphasis that ITU’s membership is now placing on human development and empowerment, and we should be proud to be part of a process which is actively working towards making the world a better place for all – through digital inclusion, respect for the environment and ongoing sustainability.

The ITRs also contain five new Resolutions, which as you know do not require any ratification, acceptance or approval process, and are not inherently binding for Member States.

They are nonetheless important texts and will themselves help to bring improved access to ICTs to all the world’s people.

Three in particular should be noted:

  • We have a resolution on special measures for landlocked developing countries and small island developing states for access to international optical fibre networks. This will help bring services to some of the most under-served people on the planet – and many of them, of course, are in this region.
  • We have a resolution on the use of one of the globally harmonized national numbers for access to emergency services – which will help save lives in emergency situations.
  • And we have a resolution on fostering an enabling environment for the greater growth of the Internet. This Resolution calls for greater broadband investment and expresses support for the multi-stakeholder model – goals that I believe we can all agree with.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Before I close, I would like to draw attention to the broadband advocacy targets which were established by the Broadband Commission at the end of 2011.

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.

The other target I would like to draw your attention to concerns the affordability – or unaffordability – of broadband, which today is still the biggest challenge to increased broadband uptake globally.

It is impressive that entry-level fixed broadband services now cost less than 2% of monthly income in 49 economies – but it still costs more than half of monthly income in 30 developing countries.

The Broadband Commission’s goal is to see broadband services cost under 5% of monthly income in every country in the world, by 2015.

And 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!

Distinguished colleagues,

In closing let me say once more how happy I am to be here in Cambodia for these important meetings, and how grateful we are to the administration for hosting us.

Yesterday’s Regional Development Forum was a source of tremendously rich and productive deliberations and discussions and I thank you for your active participation and invaluable contributions.

Our goal now is to find out what you, our membership, want to see in next year’s WTDC – which is, after all, your conference – and to understand your priorities for the coming years.

We are here to listen and to take guidance from you, and I am confident that we will leave here with many new ideas, and many new proposals for the conference next year.

Thank you.