Mr Chairman, Mr Secretary General, Ministers, Excellencies, distinguished colleagues, ladies and gentlemen. On behalf of the Kingdom of Bahrain I would like to extend our appreciation to the ITU and to our hosts, the Republic of South Korea for their kind hospitality in organizing this event.
The outlook of the global telecommunications sector has changed tremendously in the past few years and Bahrain has been consistently aligned with international standards as one of the most progressive markets in the field.
The Kingdom of Bahrain has won numerous regulatory awards regionally and internationally, recognizing its progressive efforts and achievements. Most recently, the Kingdom was recognized by the World Bank in their 2014 report 'Broadband Networks in the Middle East and North Africa'. Among the highlights is the fact that the Kingdom has the only mature telecommunications market in the MENA region, with a policy of full liberalization. Market penetration of broadband is 136% and mobile services is 182%. In the UN's eGovernment Readiness Survey, the Kingdom of Bahrain ranked 18th globally, up from 36th globally in 2012.
All of this is an indication of the direction taken by the Kingdom, which is to fully commit all efforts in empowering innovation, removing barriers to competition, and ensuring consumers are well informed.
Development and progress cannot be achieved alone, but requires all parties to work together towards a common vision. The road ahead is full of interesting and important challenges as we see the emergence of new trends and technologies that will significantly alter our approach to telecommunications. The Kingdom reaffirms its commitment to working for the benefit of all stakeholders in the face of these challenges.
To this end, the Kingdom of Bahrain has put forth its candidature for the ITU Council, where we hope to complement the work of the Council with our progressive and consensus-building approach, our commitment to an ambitious and inclusive vision, and ultimately advancing global efforts in bringing the benefits of ICTs to us all. We hope to achieve all of this and more with your support in the upcoming elections.