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

Transform Africa Summit

 Opening Remarks
28 October 2013, Kigali, Rwanda


Distinguished guests,
Ladies and gentlemen,

What a great honour and what a tremendous pleasure it is to be with you here in Kigali this week for the Transform Africa Summit!

Let me thank Rwanda – and notably the Ministry of Youth and ICT – for hosting this important Summit, and in particular let me thank President Kagame for his patronage and his personal support; I cannot tell you how much we appreciate this.

Ladies and gentlemen,

There is much to like about this Summit, but let me identify just two things that I particularly appreciate:

  • The first is the theme of the Summit: “The Future Delivered. Today”.

To me, this encapsulates the tremendous spirit of optimism and confidence which I see right across this great continent of ours, and which will help drive forward rapid social and economic progress such as we have never seen before.

  • And the second is that this Summit has been organized by Rwanda’s Ministry of Youth and ICT.

Rwanda has long-recognized that youth are the future of all nations, and that ICTs are crucial to development in the 21st century.

Combining the two within a single Ministry is hugely inspiring and is a great example to us all, and I will be amongst the many people here from an earlier generation listening to – and learning from – the next generation.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I was privileged to be here in Kigali, with President Kagame, for the hugely successful ITU Connect Africa Summit, in 2007 – and it is once again a real privilege to be back here for this summit six years later.

The past six years have been truly and totally transformative for Africa – and in particular in the field of ICTs.

When we convened the ITU Africa Connect Summit, mobile cellular penetration in Africa was close to 23.5%. Six years later, as we come into 2014, it will be 63.5% – almost three times greater.

Back at the end of 2007, Internet penetration in Africa was just 3.9%. At the end of 2013, it will be 16.3%. And I am convinced that with the rise of mobile broadband – the fastest-growing technology in human history – we will see even faster progress over the next six years.

Distinguished colleagues,

We are gathered here to take stock of the progress made since ITU Connect Africa, and to outline a bold new vision that will build on these foundations and transform African communities, businesses and governments.

Let me stress the importance of these three different stakeholders – communities, businesses and governments – and emphasize once again that all three are absolutely crucial players if we are to achieve the substantial social and economic progress this continent deserves.

This is a huge opportunity. An opportunity for communities to build and strengthen the bonds that hold them together. An opportunity for businesses to see sound returns on investments. And an opportunity for governments to deliver better services and good governance.

There is still plenty to do – and I am looking forward to the opportunity to say more about that this afternoon and to hearing discussions over the coming days.

But for now let me take my hat off to the hosts and organizers, who have put together a tremendous programme this week – full of energy, enthusiasm and optimism for the future.

Let me also salute the presence of every one of you here today. It is great to see that this Summit attracted such a broad support not only from Africa, but also from the international community, including from major private sector players. We expected 500 to attend, but now have a pleasure to welcome 1500 participants.

Your presence and contributions to this Summit demonstrate your commitment to our great Continent. And I have no doubt that this commitment will bear fruit. Africa’s development holds huge opportunities for everyone. And ICTs will play a major role in materializing such opportunities.

We are here both to witness and to contribute to the further unleashing and acceleration of this tremendous potential. Therefore, it is so exciting to be here with you – at a juncture when the future of Africa is being Delivered. Today.

Thank you.