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ICTs for a Sustainable World #ICT4SDG

Global Symposium for Regulators (GSR)

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

Opening Ceremony

03 June 2014, Manama, Bahrain

Bismallah A Rahman Al Raheem,
Al Salam Alikum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh,
Your Highness, Sheikh Ali bin Khalifa Al Khalifa, Deputy Prime Minister, deputized to represent the Patron of this GSR-14 in the Kingdom of Bahrain,

Distinguished colleagues,
Ladies and gentlemen,

It is a tremendous pleasure and a great honour to welcome you to the 2014 edition of the Global Symposium for Regulators.

We are very grateful for the patronage of His Royal Highness Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, the Prime Minister of Bahrain at this year's GSR, which is organized by ITU in collaboration with the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Bahrain.

Let me therefore express our gratitude to our hosts, His Excellency Sheikh Fawaz Bin Mohamed Al Khalifa, Bahrain's Minister of State for Telecommunications Affairs, and to the Chair of GSR-14, Dr Mohammed Al Amer, the Chairman of the TRA.

As the Secretary-General, I am proud of the role ITU plays as a catalyst in spearheading access to the digital world for all, and I am delighted to be here in Bahrain this week, which marks 15 years for the GSR event.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Since the first edition of the GSR, back in the year 2000, we have experienced some of the most revolutionary societal changes in human history – thanks to ICTs.

We have brought virtually all of the world's people within reach of mobile cellular communications, and we have seen the internet reach close to three billion people worldwide – within just a blink of an eye in historical terms.

In the space of just a few short years, we have seen the incredible proliferation of hand-held and now wearable communication devices – from laptops, tablets, smartphones and phablets, to watches and glasses.

These devices are not just revolutionizing the way we communicate, but the way we interact, and the way we pursue our lives.

Broadband is essential for these devices to communicate, but broadband is only part of the equation. Because in today's increasingly data-centric digital world, apps and services are also integral parts of the customer experience.

The apps and services markets now lead the way into different communication behaviours, opening the door to new business models and a redefinition of the role of the consumer.

Indeed, by giving the consumer a more active role, the digital ecosystem has re-drawn the business boundaries, and opened up the way for a whole wealth of fresh and innovative ideas.

In this new business landscape, how can we best capitalize on the potentials of the digital world?

How can we ensure that both consumers and businesses benefit from the opportunities of living in a digital society?

How can we respond to their need for a secure, reliable and trustworthy ecosystem?

And how can we foster a positive investment climate that will ensure we can finance the huge infrastructure rollout which will be required over the coming years?

Distinguished colleagues,

In a digital world, the role of the ICT regulator is rapidly evolving, and today's regulators not only take on their traditional roles, but also encourage the development of services to deliver sustainable and inclusive social and economic development.

At ITU, through the work carried out by our three sectors – radiocommunication, standardization and development – we are committed to assisting you in every way we can, and particularly in identifying the best strategies for success to fit your particular national circumstances and requirements.

In today's globalized world, we remain committed to serving our membership and to offering this global platform for regulators, policy makers, industry players and all ICT stakeholders, to share their views and experiences, and to identify best practices on these topical issues.

Ladies and gentlemen,

This is a particularly busy year for ITU, and for our membership. We had the very successful World Telecommunication Development Conference, WTDC-14, in Dubai, which concluded on 10 April, and this was followed by the very constructive 2014 session of Council last month.

These two events set the way forward for the Plenipotentiary Conference, which will take place in Busan, in the Republic of Korea, from 20 October to 7 November.

The year then closes with ITU Telecom World 2014 in Doha, Qatar, from 7 to 10 December, and this event is of tremendous interest to regulators.

ITU Telecom World 2014 focuses on continuing to explore the key future issues and challenges facing regulators which we have been discussing here at successive GSRs, and offers a platform for interactive debate and networking with private and public sector leaders from both emerging and developed markets.

Topics include current and future trends such as the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, and wearable computing; the convergence between telcos, broadcasters and internet players; meeting the spectrum-sharing challenge; and regulation in the rapidly-evolving end-to-end IP environment.

Let me therefore close these brief remarks by saying how much we are counting on you to make this year's GSR a great success – a success worthy of all the previous editions! – and to thank our hosts, the Kingdom of Bahrain, once again, for this tremendous welcome to Manama.

Thank you.