Committed to connecting the world

ICTs for a Sustainable World #ICT4SDG

Global ICT Capacity Building Symposium #CBS2016

​Speech by ITU Secretary-General, Houlin Zhao​

Global ICT Capacity Building Symposium (CBS-2016)​: Opening Speech

06 September 2016, Nairobi, Kenya

H.E. Mr. William Ruto, Deputy President of the Republic, Kenya,
H.E. Mr. Joseph Mucheru, Cabinet Secretary for the Ministry of Information, Communications and Technology (ICT), Kenya,
H.E. Mr. Fred O. Matiang'i, Cabinet Secretary for the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, Kenya,
Mr. Francis Wangusi, Director-General, Communications Authority of Kenya
Mr. Brahima Sanou, Director, Telecommunication Development Bureau (BDT), ITU
Excellencies (Ministers and Ambassadors) Present,
Ladies and Gentlemen, 

It is a pleasure for me to be here and I want to thank His Excellency, Mr. William Ruto, Deputy President of Kenya, for taking the time out of his busy programme to grace this event. I also want to thank the Ministers of ICT and Education of Kenya, and the Director General, Communications Authority of Kenya who worked hard to make sure that this event is successfully organized and held here in Nairobi. 

Let me now thank the Government of Kenya for their renowned hospitality which is evident from the moment one lands at Jomo Kenyatta airport. The Government of Kenya has been for many decades one of the most active member of ITU in Council and the other activities of the Union. I am sure this will continue to be the case in many decades to come. The hosting of CBS-2016 bears testimony to Kenya's commitment in ITU's work.  With respect to ICTs, the achievements by the Government of Kenya are quite evident. In recognition of this, ITU awarded the President of Kenya with the 150th Anniversary Sustainable Development Award on 26 September 2015 in New-York. 

Further, it is my pleasure to inform you that in 2015, at ITU Telecom World, Kenya was awarded two of the five awards given to the most innovative and promising Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) that use ICTs for social impact. Kenya also received a recognition-of-excellence award at the same event. In fact, my priority since assuming office has been on SMEs, as I believe that they are the source of innovative ICT-enabled solutions that make a long-lasting impact in global, regional and national economies. SMEs are an important source of new jobs especially for youth, and they make up more than 90 per cent of all businesses worldwide, and represent a 'path out of poverty' for many developing countries. 

I have no doubt that all these achievements by Kenya in the area of ICTs are making a difference in the lives of people across this country and that this progress will contribute to the country's efforts to attain the Sustainable Development Goals well before 2030. I look forward to taking part in the Ministerial visit to be undertaken tomorrow to the ICT hub to witness Kenya's ICT start-ups. 

Excellencies,
Ladies and gentlemen, 

The global economy has gone digital, and this calls for new skills, and for new knowledge. We have now entered the Information-Knowledge Society where new opportunities are emerging every day and only those that have the ability to learn and adapt will gain competitive advantage. This is why the focus of ITU and our Membership remains that of bridging the digital divide. As we do that, we must also bridge the knowledge divide. 

My concern remains however, is that even though the uptake of ICTs is high, not everybody is connected. In ITU we estimate that by end of 2016, 3.9 billion people - 53% of the world's population – will not be using the Internet. This will hamper the delivery of online education to those with no access and might contribute to the widening of the knowledge gap. We should not let the pace of technological change to outrun the pace of skills development. As we are currently addressing issues of skills alignment in the era of the Internet, we must also take into account new emerging technologies such as the Internet of Things (Iota) and big data so that people in developing countries are well trained to take advantage of the latest technologies.   

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Distinguished Guests, 

As we have Ministers of ICT and those of Education here, I just want to urge coherence in the way the two sectors work. I go a step further and urge Governments to mainstream ICT in all sectors so that information and communication technologies play a central and catalytic role in improving the socio-economic situation of the population. As the demand for specific skills is growing, public policy responses in terms of education systems and training programmes need to be aligned to this rising challenge. This calls for enhanced communication and collaboration between Government, Industry and Academia. Our telecommunication regulators who are very well represented here have a key role to play particularly when it comes to creating a level playing field and contributing to making ICTs more accessible. This goes for the private sector who have been doing a good job in rolling out infrastructure. I hope that at the end of this Symposium we will come up with sound recommendations that call for cross-sectoral collaboration, partnership building, and prioritization of ICT4Skill Enhancement.   

Before closing, I would like to take this opportunity to invite you to a special Academia Consultation meeting which will be held on
13 November in Bangkok, Thailand, in conjunction with ITU TELECOM and Kaleidoscope. At this consultation, we will explore ways of strengthening collaboration and partnerships between Academia and our industry and government members. This will also include discussions on  other new initiatives such as the ITU Journal.   

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Distinguished Guests, 

As I conclude, let me assure you that ITU is committed to connecting the world to bridge the digital divide, and building capacity in order to bridge the knowledge divide. Our mandate of "Connecting the World" would not be complete if people did not have the skills to fully utilize the technologies that are increasingly accessible to them.   

I thank you very much.​