Committed to connecting the world


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

World Telecommunication Development Conference 
Closing Ceremony

10 April 2014, Dubai, UAE

Honourable Ministers
Chairman of Telecommunication Regulatory Authority  H. E.  Mr.  Mohamed Al Qemzi
Chairman of the Conference H. E. Mr. Mohamed Al Al Ghanim, Director General TRA
Deputy Director General of TRA Majed Al Mesmar (Chairman of the Heads of delegation meeting)
Excellencies, Heads of delegation, ladies and gentlemen,

We have shared a remarkable two weeks together. After hours and hours of discussion and negotiation, Members, Governments, Private Sector, Civil Society and Academia have forged a common vision and a plan of action, a strategic plan, and a financial plan of for the coming years. Moreover we have created an implementation plan and organized our next study cycle, we have selected the chairs and vice chairs.

I stand before you today, proud of our Union, which I believe is stronger than ever before. Despite the many differences that could potentially divide us, we have come together - to share resources, experiences and energies and to work towards common goals. I thank all of you, for your flexibility, patience and spirit of collaboration.

I would like to thank the Government and the people of the United Arab Republic for their kindness, Hospitality and Hard work.  My sincere congratulations go to the leaders of this great country for their vision and accomplishment.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Two weeks ago we all arrived here in this vibrant city of Dubai with one single mission in mind – How to make this world a better place through ICT, Broadband and mobile broadband.

We sit here and now, with profound gratitude and satisfaction. Telling ourselves, “We did it, and we will positively impact the world; we did it, with much joy and pleasure; and we did it Together!” It is not often that huge gatherings of this nature coming from very diverse regions and cultures would so warmly work together for a common purpose - no personal disagreements, just intellectual debate. It is even sweeter as it comes after our experience at WCIT in 2012. I am sure that the social media is as active in praising our achievements here as they will indeed positively impact on social and economic life for many years to come. We were in fact jokingly saying that we came back to Dubai to lay to rest the ghost, and we have, the ghost is dead!

Let me congratulate you all, my dear Friends. Let me repeat what I said in my closing speech at WTDC-02 in Istanbul as Director of the Telecommunication Development Bureau, because I believe in it: Across Africa, we believe that “Wisdom is like a baobab tree; no one individual can embrace it.” WTDC-14 has vindicated these words of wisdom. Each region, each delegation (Member State or Sector Member), and each individual delegate have made it possible for us at this Conference to embrace the massive Baobab tree with its many branches ranging from infrastructure, ICT applications, cybersecurity, capacity building, emergency telecommunications – bearing fruit to support the post 2015 development agenda.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Before proceeding with my short concluding remarks, let me thank the Government of Egypt that worked very hard in preparation to host us in Sharma-El-Sheikh, Egypt.  However, due to circumstances beyond their control, this could not happen. But for their offer, resolve, and commitment to the work of the Union, let us show our appreciation.

To our host whom I approached very late at the sunset of 2013, I have this to say: Generosity, Kindness, and Friendship. These three words define us as humans and lift us, on occasion, to Greatness. For many years, we have been hosted by our brothers and sisters of the United Arab Emirates. The years 2012, 2013 and 2014 saw many big events hosted here. For that, we are most grateful!

At this juncture I cannot help but mention a special thanks to my brother Mohammed Al Qamzi, Chairman of TRA who’s support, determination and commitment has made this Conference a reality.  Thank you Mr. Al Qamzi for your belief in us, thank you for giving us a chance!  My thanks go also to Dr. Ahmed Qadr Al Khayat board member of TRA and chairman of WTDC High Level organizing Committee, and all the staff of TRA who have worked so hard.

Mr. Chairman, your wisdom, punctuality, wit and humility, made this Conference a real success. We thank you. When we got the news that you had been appointed to chair this Conference after WCIT, we knew that you would ride on your great experience and that failure was not even an option. Let me say: You have again made us proud. We thank you.

Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

The theme of our Conference is Broadband for Sustainable Development.  This is a theme that is timely. It is the theme of this year’s World Telecommunication Information Society day.  As most of you already know, in 2010 we launched the Broadband Commission for Digital Development. Just as this Conference has emphasized the critical role of broadband for the development of countries, we too in the Commission share this view. My view is that, it is about time that we challenge ourselves to connect everyone to broadband by 2020. In so doing, we should ensure that; all men and women of this planet enjoy equal benefit of the use of ICTs, that minorities, rural populations, the elderly, and all other social groupings are catered for in order for them to also enjoy the digital fruits brought by broadband. For this to happen, we need good policies, the right legal framework, and viable business cases that could be financed by private capital fully supported by Universal Service Funds. These are very pertinent issues that I hope policy-makers, regulators and investors will take seriously.  Because, Broadband Brings Bundles of Opportunities to all.  Investment in Broadband is Worth it - This, despite the high cost of building out communication networks and attracting good investment and development capital.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

For those of you who were in Doha at WTDC-06, you may recall my final words during the closing ceremony when I said: “Speaking for myself, I assure you of my determination to continue to play my part not only to fulfill the needs, and expectations of the people world over, but also to work with you in different capacities to unleash this wealth-creating and key transforming technology of our time that has the power to make it possible for us to create a world sans frontier! I know you share this vision with me.” And these words have come true, and I meant every word of what I said then.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Over the past four years, we achieved a lot. I am pleased to note that my Brother Brahima Sanou has been working very hard and with passion to accompany you on your journey to sustainable development. The unprecedented high attendance and presence of Ministers at this Conference has re-affirmed your belief, trust, and endorsement in what the BDT Director is doing with the support of the two other Directors of TSB and BR (Malcolm Johnson, and Francois Rancy).

Let me end with these words: ITU survived two World Wars and 70 years or so of cold war; ITU survived many global financial crises; ITU contributed in many ways to the well-being of society – intervened in many natural disasters, contributed to the health sector, business, education, transport, climate mitigation and other key areas. And we are soon going to celebrate ITU at 150 in 2015. The best way we could celebrate this great age of 150 years is by making sure that each of our countries does something special. Is it a special postal stamp, a special Award, a special dance, a special song that will mark the many years of resilience and life-changing? It is up to you.   I have nothing else to add. But what I know is: we are a fortunate generation to be there to celebrate this memorable, historic Anniversary. Let us just make it special!

At this juncture, I also want to thank the Conference vice Chairs, Committee and Working Group Chairs and Vice Chairs. Without your hard work, dedication, and support, it would have been slow and hard. To the delegates, without you there wouldn’t be a Conference. Three words to you: Bravo, Bravo, Bravo. To my ITU Colleagues here in Dubai, across all our field offices, and in Geneva; your hard work has paid off and I am very proud of you. To interpreters, local staff – I thank you. You were the oil that made the whole machinery run smoothly.

I address a special thanks to the Director of the BDT, his staff, and my colleagues the elected officials, Houlin Zhao, Malcolm Johnson, François Rancy.

Mr Chairman,
Ladies and Gentleman,

As I come to a close and as I comment on the Dubai Action Plan that we have just adopted, let me borrow the wise words of Henry David Thoreau who said: “A truly good book teaches me better than to read it. I must soon lay it down, and commence living on its hint. What I began by reading, I must finish by acting.” I hope all of us who will read the book containing the conclusions of this conference will finish by Acting.

I look forward to seeing you soon in Busan at PP-10 and I assure you that you will have another great experience. We have a good host and my team is working hard to make sure that you re-live the Dubai experience.

Now it is my immense honour and privilege to award to Mr. Mohammed Al Ghannim, Director General of TRA and Chairman of WTDC’14 the ITU

Gold Medal, unfortunately we do not have platinum!

I thank you all!