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World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-19) 2019

​Speech by ITU Secretary-General, Houlin Zhao 

World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-19) 2019: Opening ceremony

28​ October 2019, Sharm-El-Sheikh, Egypt  ​​


Mr. President,
Mr. Prime Minister,
Mr. Minister,
Mr. Chairman,
Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates,
ITU Elected Officials,
​Ladies and Gentlemen.

Welcome to the World Radiocommunication Conference 2019!

This is the moment that we have all been waiting for! After years of preparation, the world has come together again to shape the future of technologies and services that will transform industries and communities around the globe.

I thank His Excellency Mr. Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, President of the Arab Republic of Egypt, for his presence here today. Egypt joined our Union in 1876 and has been a strong partner of ITU ever since.

In 2016, I met the President of Egypt himself and he invited the ITU to hold  WRC-19 here in Egypt. Later, he even relocated his annual flagship event “Youth Summit" from November to December. We thank him for his great efforts to get us here this time.

I note the President is very supportive to ICTs.  In December 2017, I came to Cairo to join the “ICT Week".  I was very impressed with the President's visit to the ICT SMEs at the Conference.  Instead of one hour scheduled, he spent 3 hours to talk to many young ICT entrepreneurs!  We appreciate his valuable support to ICT and SMEs.

Thanks to his leadership and support, ICTs have developed rapidly in Egypt.  Digital Egypt will bring Egypt higher and further.  As Chairman of the African Union, President Sisi has spared no efforts to promote Africa, in particular to use ICT to transform Africa. 

We are grateful to the Arab Republic of Egypt for hosting one of ITU's landmark conferences here in the beautiful city of Sharm-el-Sheikh, 'the City of Peace'.

When we think of Egypt, we marvel at feats of engineering like the Pyramids. We all know that  the Nile River is at the center of the Egyptian civilization − this water, Mr. President, that you described as “a matter of life and existence" for Egypt in your speech last month to the UN General Assembly.

Much like the water from the Nile River, the radio-frequency spectrum is also a scarce and very valuable resource. The increasing use of wireless technologies has put this resource under stress. The increased complexity of the WRC is due to the extensive number of radiocommunication services requiring the use of spectrum and orbital resources for new applications; to the limited time to conduct sharing and compatibility studies in the study groups; and to the different needs of each Member State.

Our task over the next four weeks is to optimize its use for the benefit of all by reviewing and revising the Radio Regulations, the international treaty governing the use of the radio-frequency spectrum and satellite orbits.

What is at stake is digital inclusion and the chance to improve the lives of millions across the world − particularly in least developed countries, small island developing States and landlocked developing countries. In the digital age, broadband networks are as essential as roads, railways and water and power networks.

This conference can help accelerate progress and support applications in smart cities, health, farming, education, transportation, finance, energy and all the other areas related to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Ladies and gentlemen,

WRC-2019 is not only the important conference for the world radio industry and radio experts, not only important for the ITU family.  Rather it will play an important role for the entire human race for the next decade or even longer.  With its influence on modern human development, it will be linked with Sharm-El-Sheikh of Egypt. 

Let us show the world what we can do to help deliver on the promise of the digital economy and leave no one behind and let us come together to succeed.

I wish you all a very productive and successful World Radiocommunication Conference 2019!

Thank you.