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Roberto Blois Montes de Souza
Deputy Secretary-General elect

Question 1
Many consider that the ITU is threatened by the upheavals of the telecommunication industry. New organizations such as the WTO or regional bodies take center-stage and industry fora that are less formal and more focused multiply. What future do you see for the ITU? What would be your personal contribution (what initiatives/focus would you bring) as elected official to bringing innovation and fostering the adaptation of the Union to the driving forces of change so as to keep the ITU a pre-eminent forum for international telecommunications?

We are living in a world that is engulfed with change. We in the telecommunications industry can be considered the leaders of this global change. Our industry continues to see unprecedented technological development and growth. The technological developments over the last few years alone have dramatically changed all of our lives. However, change requires that we adapt and be responsive to our constituencies in order that we may grow and prosper. So too must the ITU adapt -- it must learn to adapt quickly to changes in the telecommunications environment and be more responsive to the demands of its membership.

The ITU has been and continues to be the central force and catalyst for global discussion of telecommunications issues. While a great deal of focus seems to be directed to many new organizations with greater expectations, the ITU provides the forum that brings together the governments, operators and equipment suppliers of the world to sort out the issues and arrive at consensus.

Consensus is not always easy to achieve in a world that is changing so rapidly. With technological developments moving so quickly, adaptation and flexibility become paramount. My vision of the ITU in the new millennium is a more adaptive, responsive, flexible and cost effective organization that fosters understanding and better cooperation between governments and the increasingly influential private sector.

To achieve these ambitious goals I would envision initiating a four-point program to ease the change process, yet position the ITU for the greater changes and challenges it will face in the new millennium.

  1. The ITU must be a well managed organization, responsive to its membership and in touch with the demands placed on governments and the private sector by changes in the telecommunications environment. To this end, internal programs should be initiated that would lead to a rethinking of how financial resources are allocated and how the internal working methods of the ITU could be made more efficient.
  2. The ITU is the expert among international organizations in telecommunications and it must continue to provide relevant leadership and expertise in working with other international organizations. To this end, the outreach to other organizations must continually be reviewed to ensure that effective coordination is achieved and maximum benefits flow to the membership.
  3. Greater understanding and better cooperation between governments and the private sector is becoming more important. Here, I believe the ITU can play a very pivotal role. New programs will need to be initiated that will generate benefits to all telecommunications sectors taking into consideration the requirements and desires of governments and the private sector. The ITU can reach out to the governments and the private sector through programs of mutual interest to develop telecommunications projects.
  4. The ITU must be the trusted facilitator and resource of expertise for telecommunications development and, again, work in close cooperation with both the public and private sectors. Here programs need to be instituted that will permit greater information flow so that all members can see how other members have been successful.

This is an ambitious program but one that must be undertaken so that all members of the ITU can reap the benefits of a progressive and dynamic organization centered on meeting the needs of its members.

Question 2
In today’s telecommunication environment, it is no longer realistic to believe that the Union can be the focal point for all matters relating to telecommunications in the global information economy and society. The world is now too complex and telecommunications too pervasive for a single organization to be the focus of all issues of concern to the international community. What do you consider to be the core competencies of the ITU? What issues should ITU focus on and what could be phased out of ITU’s mandate or left to regional/sub-regional organizations? What should be ITU’s role in telecommunication sector reform?

The ITU’s role for many years has been unchallenged. It provided the forum, as it continues to do, for all telecommunications experts, both government and private, to meet, discuss and solve the many difficult issues of today’s telecommunications environment. Its core competencies are embedded in its role as a facilitator and catalyst for discussion and ultimately consensus for global connectivity. This role must continue for the betterment of the Union and all of its members. We have seen the successes of the Union over and over as it has brought together the diverse views of its membership and their, often, conflicting interests. Bringing together the governments, regulators, operators and equipment suppliers to discuss standards and facilitate global connectivity is the lynchpin that continues to keep the ITU in the forefront of global telecommunications. It is this vitality that attracts the membership and allows the ITU to flourish.

Regional organizations must continue to play a greater role in achieving global consensus. The regional groups are needed to facilitate understanding of the issues, to work through the many difficult and challenging tasks and ultimately to provide an informed base for decision-making. Hence, I see the regional organizations and sub-regional organizations as providing the fora for the initial thought-provoking discussion that generates a true comprehension of the issues for consensus-building at the ITU forum.

The ITU must be a key player in telecommunications development. As I have stated in my four point program, the ITU must serve as a trusted facilitator and resource of expertise and work in close cooperation with the public and private sectors. Working in close coordination with the government, private sector and financial institutions, the ITU can provide the necessary guidance and source of expertise to facilitate the funding to appropriate development projects.

Question 3
Recent ITU conferences have shown that the requirements of global networks and national sovereign rights are increasingly on a collision course. How can they be reconciled in an ITU context?

This is a central part of global change that I spoke of in my earlier response. The ITU must be prepared to deal with the change as must its members if the technology available is to become a true enabler for deployment of global networks and connectivity. While each sovereign nation holds the key to its global connectivity, it must also recognize how far technology has come which permits such connectivity regardless of national boundaries.

Cooperation, consensus and compromise are key here to allow global networks to flourish and to provide the means for all to connect wherever and whenever they want. The ITU can play the role of facilitator to ensure that all nations and all people have the opportunity to access global networks taking into account national sovereignty. I fully support technological development and want to see the deployment of global networks to ensure global connectivity for all. I will work towards facilitating cooperation to ensure this happens.

Question 4
Demands on the organization are increasing faster than its resources: deregulation brings more players on the scene and, in turn, more members in the ITU; on the other hand, the financial foundation of the organization is eroding because of the smaller number of contributory units chosen by members. Various proposals to strengthen the ITU including cost-recovery and revenue-generation options have met stiff resistance as did the proposal to grant the industry a greater say in the allocation of resources and in the setting of priorities in exchange for a more important share in the expenses. What would you advocate as the way forward?

The ITU is growing, and grow it must. Private sector participation has increased dramatically due to the liberalization of global telecommunications. We need to channel these energies and create a responsive ITU that will more than meet the expectations of its broad base of members. We must carefully examine where cost-recovery mechanisms could be instituted within the Union to determine the benefits and if, in fact, they would meet expectations. In this age of change and as we approach the new millennium, the ITU and its members must step up to the challenges, financial and otherwise, that must yet be faced. I would plan to work closely with the new Secretary General and the members to address this issue head on. We must above all inform the membership and have the opportunity to fully disclose and discuss this issue with all members in attempting to find a solution which would bring about the desired financial results and consensus among the Union’s members.

Question 5
Given the broad membership of the organization (vendors, scientific organizations, service providers, broadcasters in countries from the poorest of the planet to the most powerful nations), how can the organization address their competing needs in a cost-effective way?

The ITU has been addressing the needs of its members for many years and continues to manage the difficult task of consensus building. While the diversity of its membership is indeed a challenge it also creates the power that must be harnessed and channeled for the betterment of its membership. A comprehensive review must be undertaken to determine how best all member interests can be met in an expeditious manner while achieving cost-effective measures. The ITU must consider all viewpoints equally and call upon all of its abilities to foster consensus to achieve the best possible outcome for all members. Resources are scarce and a fair approach to allocation must be achieved, recognizing the particular issues which are of fundamental concern to many of the developing countries. Similarly, the interests of others cannot go unheeded, and a fair balance must be achieved recognizing their individual resource capabilities. While this is indeed a challenge, it is critical to the ultimate direction this organization takes during the new millennium.

Question 6
The 1995-1999 Strategic Plan said "At present, the ITU is surely one of the least known international organizations, in spite of the fact that the development of the global telecommunication network is increasingly vital to the welfare of humanity. The Members of the Union have asked it to play a leadership role in the international community. To do this, the ITU must communicate its message more effectively than it does at present, to ensure that governments are aware of the importance of telecommunications as a tool for social and economic development". What concrete steps would you take to fulfill this objective, what would be your "Communication" agenda?

Governments today are becoming more and more aware of the significance that telecommunications plays in economic and social development. Many studies have been conducted by the ITU and others which clearly demonstrate the many benefits that development of the telecommunications sector has on a country, and for that matter, a region’s economic and social well-being. There are a number of ways that this message could and should be communicated to the membership. This message needs to be reemphasized through all means available to the ITU, such as the ITU web site, regional and sector meetings, policy and development conferences and through the larger UN organization. The ITU should partake in more telecommunications conferences and spread this message globally. Communicating the message from within the ITU organization, however, needs to be a number one priority and the staff needs to fully understand the objectives and goals of the ITU in this regard. They are the best ambassadors for this message as they travel around the world performing their good works.

Question 7
What would be your top three priorities for the period up to the next Plenipotentiary Conference?

While I have already discussed my four point program for the new millennium, I want to note that the role of the Deputy Secretary-General must be broadened to encompass many of the day-to-day operations of the Union, and to play a significant role in the strategic planning of the ITU. Hence, the following are my priorities:

  1. To work diligently to ensure that the ITU is a well-managed organization responsive to its membership and in touch with the demands placed on governments and the private sector by changes in the telecommunications environment.
  2. To position the ITU in a manner that fosters greater understanding and better cooperation between governments and the increasingly influential private sector.
  3. The ITU must play a key role in telecommunications development. It should serve as a facilitator and resource of expertise for development and work in close cooperation with the public and private sectors.

Question 8
Any other message you would like to communicate?

The ITU must be prepared for the new millennium. The membership, governments and the private sector must be able and willing to deal with change and to meet the challenges ahead. Communication, Coordination, Cooperation and Consensus are the four "C’s" for success in the new millennium. To this end the Deputy Secretary-General must be a strong and tenacious leader and be responsive to the diverse demands of the ITU membership. The Deputy Secretary- General must be the great facilitator and bring together all of the opinions, as well as call upon the many different organizations that can assist in developing global connectivity. The Deputy Secretary-General must be flexible to work within the many different environments and with the successful candidate for Secretary-General.n

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