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ICTs for a Sustainable World #ICT4SDG

Regional ITU Forum for CIS and Europe

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

Shared use of Infrastructure as a tool to Promote Development of Broadband Networks

20 May 2014, Chisinau, Moldova

Distinguished guests,
Ladies and gentlemen,

It is a great honour and a tremendous pleasure to be here with you in Chisinau this morning for the Regional Forum for CIS and Europe on the Shared Use of Infrastructure as a Tool to Promote Development of Broadband Networks.

Clearly, this is a highly topical issue – and we greatly appreciate the efforts already made by Moldova's Ministry of Information Technology and Communications to improve and make efficient use of existing ICT infrastructure to further integrate Moldova into the information society and to make information more accessible for Moldova's people.

As we all know, fostering future infrastructure development is a pre-condition for every kind of 'e' activity there is – from e-health and e-learning, to e-government, e-commerce and e-employment.

This Forum therefore represents an excellent opportunity to make real progress in developing and furthering the information society.

And let me highlight here the Moldovan-Polish project on the development of a legal framework for the shared use of electronic communications infrastructure, which is currently being implemented.

Ladies and gentlemen,

At the ITU, as many of you will know, our mission is to connect the world, and to bring the benefits of ICTs to all the peoples of the world – wherever they live and whatever their circumstances.

I firmly believe that if we can succeed in achieving our mission, then we will see unprecedented social and economic improvement for all. As a result, we will continue to make bold steps in accelerating progress towards meeting development goals, including advances in addressing the post-2015 development agenda.

Personally, I believe that we should challenge ourselves to connect everyone to broadband by 2020.

In so doing, we should ensure that all men and women enjoy equally the digital fruits brought by broadband, and that minorities, rural populations, the elderly, and all other social groupings are catered for.

For this to happen, we need sound policies and the right legal framework. In this regard, we can applaud the Moldovan ICT Ministry's efforts in promoting the implementation of previous policy documents, and notably the successful establishment of competitive electronic communications infrastructure.

Distinguished colleagues,

We have made the most extraordinary progress since the dawn of the new Millennium.

In the year 2000, mobile phone penetration in the world's richest countries was around 50%, but average mobile penetration here in the CIS region was under 2%.

By the end of this year, however, there will be almost as many mobile-cellular subscriptions globally as there are people, and here in the CIS, according to the latest ITU predications, published just two weeks ago, penetration rates will be the highest of any region in the world – reaching 141% by the end of 2014. Europe, which will reach 125% penetration by the end of 2014, is not far behind.

At the beginning of the Millennium, around 280 million people had access to the internet worldwide. In not much more than a decade that figure has grown more than ten-fold, and will reach almost three billion by the end of the year.

In terms of growth rates, the most spectacular numbers are coming from mobile broadband – with the number of mobile-broadband subscriptions globally expected to reach 2.3 billion globally by the end of 2014, giving average global penetration of 32%.

And yet we still have far to go.

Because while over three quarters of people in the developed world now have access to the internet, more than two thirds of people in the developing world still do not.

We have bridged the mobile digital divide, but much remains to be done to reduce this new digital divide – the broadband divide.

This is one of the main reasons why ITU and UNESCO set up the Broadband Commission for Digital Development four years ago, to advocate for increased access to broadband infrastructure and applications, as a means to accelerate progress towards meeting the Millennium Development Goals.

Since then, the Broadband Commission has been a central driver of dialogue and actions to make broadband more available and more affordable everywhere.

The importance of broadband to all countries was highlighted by this year's World Telecommunication Development Conference, which was held in Dubai from 30 March to 10 April, under the theme of 'Broadband for Sustainable Development'.

It was also highlighted at the end of last week, when the same theme was taken up for this year's World Telecommunication and Information Society Day, celebrated annually on 17 May.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I am delighted to see the positive efforts that Moldova is making to bring connectivity to all, and full credit should be given to those behind the new draft strategy on IS development here: 'Digital Moldova 2020'.

Moldova is admirable in recognizing that broadband development is a core pillar of the information society, and I applaud your efforts to improve access and rollout infrastructure; to promote digital content and electronic services; and to strengthen digital skills and literacy.

We are very pleased to see that the agenda developed by the Ministry includes practical implementation scenarios described by both operators and authorities, as well as the legal aspects of this sensitive topic.

From ITU's perspective, we will continue to support the efforts of Moldova, and will actively contribute towards:

Let me therefore wish you a very fruitful Forum, and encourage you to work together to promote the continuing development of broadband networks across the region.

Thank you for your attention.