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

First International Academia Workshop

 Opening Remarks

20 November 2013, Bangkok, Thailand

Distinguished guests
Ladies and gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure to be here with you this morning at the first International Academia Workshop.

Let me start by thanking our host, His Excellency Group Captain Anudith Nakornthap, Minister for Information and Communication Technology, for providing us with such a warm welcome and such excellent facilities.

And let me also thank Professor Obi, ITU’s Special Envoy for Academia, for his efforts in organizing this workshop.

I am pleased to be joined by my colleague Eun-Ju Kim, ITU’s Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific, along with other colleagues from our Geneva and Bangkok offices.

Ladies and gentlemen,

ITU has a long relationship of working with academia.

For many years, academic experts have contributed to the intellectual work of the Union, including:

  • The development of international standards for new technologies;
  • The planning and management of spectrum and space resources;
  • The development of smart, forward-looking policy and regulatory regimes;
  • As well as supporting our capacity-building activities and project implementation.

ITU’s Development Sector has more than 60 Centres of Excellence designed to help build capacity in all regions of the world, many of them in partnership with academic institutions.

These centres provide highly-specialized ICT-related training for policy-makers, regulators, industry and academia.

In this region, we are providing training through the Centres of Excellence in areas such as: policy and regulation; spectrum management; broadcasting; business management; cybersecurity; rural ICT development; ICT technologies; and ICT applications.

And of course MICT Thailand is host to one of these Centres of Excellence – so let me take this opportunity to thank the Minister for his continued support.

Distinguished guests,

To meet the changing needs of our members and the ICT market place, we have developed a new Centres of Excellence strategy to be implemented from 2015 onwards. The new strategy will streamline operations towards a more efficient and self-sustaining capacity-building programme.

To support this work, the ITU Academy was launched in 2012, integrating all of ITU’s capacity-building activities under one umbrella. To this end, standardized training materials are being developed in priority areas across all three sectors of the Union: radiocommunications, standardization and development.

These materials will be used to deliver training through our Centres of Excellence and partner universities, both through face-to-face training as well as online via the ITU Academy portal.

This work is being guided by the ‘Group on Capacity Building Initiative’, GCBI, which is ably chaired by Professor David Mellor.

Ladies and gentlemen,

ITU’s Telecommunication Standardization Bureau, TSB, leads the organization of our annual flagship ‘Kaleidoscope’ event for academia, which brings together researchers, government and industry to share their views on future ICT networks and services.

Academia are welcome to submit a paper for the conference peer-review process, and the proceedings are published in partnership with IEEE, with top papers being included in a special edition of IEEE Communication Magazine. There are also financial awards for the top papers.

On behalf of my colleague Malcolm Johnson, the Director of TSB, I am pleased to invite you to the next Kaleidoscope event which is being held in Saint Petersburg next year, from 3 to 5 June, with the theme of ‘Living in a converged world – impossible without standards?’.

We are looking for original academic papers, offering bold, innovative approaches to managing convergence in today's ICT-dependent world.

Distinguished guests,

There is no doubt that the key to future growth and prosperity is knowledge and innovation.

We need to invest in ourselves, and in one another, to expand knowledge and innovation and to spread access to opportunity, leveraging the power of ICTs.

Academia are perfect partners in this quest for knowledge and innovation. Indeed, by definition, academia challenges the status quo and seeks out new ways of thinking and working.

This is why ITU introduced a new category of Academia Membership in 2010.

To help spread the word about this new category of membership, I invited Professor Obi of Waseda University to serve as ITU’s Special Envoy for Academia, and we are grateful for his tireless efforts in this regard – including the organization of this workshop.

Today, ITU has more than 60 Academia Members, which contribute to the work of all three Sectors of ITU.

Some of you are already members of ITU.

Others are not yet members, but may be considering joining – so this is a great opportunity for you to find out more about ITU and how you can get involved.

This workshop is also an excellent opportunity for us to consult you, and to find out your views on how ITU can best engage academia in our work. We are also seeking your feedback on how we can better serve our Academia Members.

The category of Academia Membership is still relatively new, and there is therefore considerable scope for evolving and improving as we move forward. We are in the process of making recommendations on potential reforms that can be considered by Member States at the Plenipotentiary Conference next year in Korea – and we welcome your inputs to that process.

ITU’s Standardization Sector is already looking at some important improvements, and the World Telecommunication Standardization Conference in 2012 passed a resolution to better acknowledge significant contributors to new international standards.

We are working on implementing this resolution, in direct response to feedback from Academia Members who told us how important is that professors’ contributions are properly recognized.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Let me close by thanking our Academia Members for your continued support and engagement, and to invite those of you who have not yet done so to join the ITU family.

We always have room for more creative thinkers, intellectual challengers of the status quo, and change-makers!

Consider ITU a shared space where you can bring your ideas, exchange with others, and build partnerships, to ensure that the benefits of ICTs are shared with people all around the world.

Thank you for your attention.