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ICTs for a Sustainable World #ICT4SDG

Global Symposium for Regulators (GSR) 2014

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

Opening Press Conference

03 June 2014, Manama, Bahrain

Distinguished colleagues,
Ladies and gentlemen,

Thank you all very much for joining us here today for the opening of the 2014 Global Symposium for Regulators and the Global Regulators and Industry Dialogue, or GRID.

This is a very important event for the global telecommunications regulatory community – and an equally important event for the development of information and communication technologies worldwide.

The decisions that are made by national regulators – of which there are now over 160 worldwide – are what shape market conditions for the growth of information and communication services.

It is these decisions which create an environment that fosters healthy competition and ensures that consumers get the best deal in terms of pricing, network coverage and choice.

These regulatory decisions are equally important in ensuring there is an attractive climate for private sector investment, so that operators and infrastructure builders have the incentives to invest and innovate to create new networks and services.

I think nowhere is the important role played by the national ICT regulator better illustrated than here in Bahrain. You can all be very proud that your country is among the leading nations worldwide for ICT access.

There are now around 2.2 million mobile cellular subscribers in Bahrain, making for a penetration rate of 166 subscriptions per 100 inhabitants – well above the average penetration in the Arab states, as well as the average global penetration of 96%.

More than 90% of Bahraini households have computers – making your country one of the world's most connected nations.

And with 1.5 million active mobile-broadband subscriptions, the penetration of mobile broadband here in Bahrain is one of the world's highest, at 115% – over three times the world average, and almost double the Gulf Cooperation Council penetration rate of 62%.

If that weren't enough to be proud of, Bahrain also has a very competitive market for ICT services, with low prices by both regional and global standards.

I think the credit for that achievement has to go to our hosts, the Telecommunication Regulatory Authority, which has been repeatedly recognized internationally for its forward-looking approach to Bahrain's ICT development.

So it is indeed apposite that the TRA should host this important global symposium, and we are delighted to have the chance to benefit from Bahrain's skill as a host of international events, and to experience the warmth and hospitality for which this country is justly famous.

Ladies and gentlemen,

As the United Nations specialized agency for information and communications technology, ITU is committed to helping connect all the world's people.

That commitment saw us launch this important symposium some 15 years ago, and I am very happy to see that under the Director of the Telecommunication Development Bureau, Mr Brahima Sanou, this event continues to go from strength to strength, growing in influence worldwide as THE single unmissable annual gathering of the global regulatory community.

It is testament to the success of the efforts of Mr Sanou and his team that this event in Manama will be among our most successful GSRs ever, with over 650 participants, including government Ministers from Gabon, Senegal and Somalia, as well as Bahrain's own Deputy Prime Minster and Minster for Communications, and more than 80 VIP delegates.

Just a few minutes ago, at the GSR Opening Ceremony, I spoke about the importance of achieving the same explosion in Internet as we have achieved in mobile.

For us to do this, governments need to put broadband at the top of their national agenda. I know that here in Bahrain the government and the TRA have made ICTs a key pillar of your country's economic development, and I commend Dr Alamer's vision and skill in achieving such exceptional results. Bahrain is truly a 'best-practice' case study for other nations to emulate.

I will let the Director of our Telecommunication Development Bureau, Mr Sanou, speak a little more about the agenda for this event, but for now it gives me great pleasure to invite our host, Mr Mohammed Alamer, to say a few words in his role as Chair of this 14th GSR.