First, on behalf of the Government of the Republic of Cyprus and the Cyprus delegation, let me express our thanks and gratitude to the Government of the Republic of Korea for hosting this Plenipotentiary Conference in the beautiful city of Busan and congratulate you, Mr. Chairman, on your election.
It is being recognized that the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) plays a key enabling role to achieve smart, sustainable and inclusive economy and society. The use of ICT is a catalyst to the increase of productivity and economic growth. It has direct impact on the increase of GDP, the creation of new high-value jobs, the modernization and productivity increase of the public sector, the increase of transparency and the promotion of democracy and culture. At the same time, information and communication technologies provide new tools with which we can deal with the various social challenges, such as climate change, efficient use of energy, the reduction of carbon dioxide and the ageing population. Also, the citizen from a passive consumer gets a voice and turns into the protagonist of developments, as can be seen from the increasing use of the Internet by social networks. Therefore, the development conditions of the information society refers to a society in which the creation, transmission, dissemination and utilization of information is a significant economic, social, political and cultural activity.
Broadband accessibility should not be a privilege but a right to every citizen. Concrete steps should be taken to overcome the digital divide by meeting the target of 100% coverage, taking into account the needs of the future for ultra high speed communications. At the same time, we must reduce the prices for Internet access to be affordable to everyone and create a secure flow of information and operation of networks. It is apparent that people will be reluctant to transact over the Internet if they are not confident that what they do is secure. Furthermore, governments need to use ICT in their internal functioning to become more efficient and productive and also to provide services to the citizens and businesses.
To achieve a truly digital society, we must also promote digital literacy and skills as well as the benefits offered by ICT in daily and business activities. In this effort, we need to make sure that nobody is left behind. Particular attention should be paid to the vulnerable groups of society, people with special skills, the elderly, the poor.
ICT can play a key role in achieving the global goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions, and to improving energy efficiency by 20 %. ICT offer potential for a structural shift to less resource-intensive products and services, for energy savings in buildings and electricity networks, as well as for more efficient and less energy consuming intelligent transport systems.
ITU has a new key role with regard to transparency and confidence-building measures in outer space activities. This should be strengthen, since end user services have started to rely more and more on satellite technologies for a range of space related services such as Earth exploration, telecommunications and navigation.
These challenges are not ahead of us, they are with us and we need to face them urgently. The ITU needs to maintain its leadership in promoting the information society of the 21st century and bridging the digital divide. It needs to lead the way in building a cyber-society that people can trust.
The Republic of Cyprus could not remain inactive in this digital revolution. The use of ICT in all vital sectors of the economy of Cyprus like education, health, tourism, transport and generally in the exercise of every business activity is of paramount importance to the development of Cyprus into a regional service center and the attraction of foreign investments. In particular, taking advantage of our geographical location, favorable tax system, the harmonized European telecommunications regulatory environment, and our expertise and experience, our vision is "The Information and Communication Technologies become the catalyst to accelerate our economy and create high paying jobs and new creative opportunities".
Therefore, we have developed a comprehensive plan (for the period 2012-2020) for the development of information society in Cyprus, which was approved by the Council of Ministers of Cyprus on February 2012. Our digital strategy is in line with the ITU's Strategic goals and global ICT targets and in line with the objectives and actions proposed in the Digital Agenda for Europe, one of the flagships of the strategy "Europe 2020". The digital strategy will contribute substantially to economic growth, productivity increase and job creation. The strategy promotes the use of ICT in all sectors of the economy and society.
Moreover, during the years, we have managed to utilise successfully our strategic location for telecommunication purposes, since we are located at the crossroads of Europe, Asia and Africa. We have developed an excellent satellite and submarine cable infrastructure, which is not only used to connect the Island with its neighboring countries and the rest of the world, but also to transfer traffic between continents. Also, the demand for the use and development of specialized applications of space technology is increased. To further enhance our position we are constantly trying to upgrade and develop this infrastructure, to ensure that coverage and quality are optimized. A robust and reliable telecommunications framework is the key for the development of an international finance, trading and shipping centre.
In closing, I would like to thank you for giving me the opportunity to address this Plenipotentiary Conference. I am confident that the Conference will fulfill its goals and all together take the right policy decisions that will help us shape the development of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) worldwide, in the years to come.
Thank you Mr. Chairman,
And thank you all for your attention.