Dr Hamadoun Toure opens the Plenipotentiary Conference

The ITU’ s Plenipotentiary Conference could help shape the future for all people of the world, says ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun Touré . The conference, to run over the next three weeks in Guadalajara, Mexico, was officially opened today.

Dr Touré said at the opening ceremony today that earlier ITU visionaries had dreamed a world in which there was universal access to telephones. This dream had almost been realised.

“ Now we are here to shape the future,” Touré said. He noted that the future depends on the capacity of ITU’ s member states to share the vision and reach agreements that shape telecoms in the years to come.

Touré said the massive spread of broadband was already transforming people’ s daily lives, stimulating growth and economic competitiveness.

“ Who could have thought 20 years ago that communications would have changed so quickly?”   He pointed to mobile phones, always-on internet, bar codes and other technologies that were science fiction not too long ago. The ITU’ s work had helped bring these advances about.

“ Let us be proud of the accomplishments we have achieved. More importantly, let us be proud of the work we will do here in the next three weeks. We have the opportunity to shape the future and bring the benefits of ICTs to all the world’ s people.”

Pointing out that he had brought his two granddaughters with him to the conference, he said he hoped to help build a future in which his children and grandchildren were proud of the work that had been done by the ITU.

“ As we embrace a new era of converged communications, ICTs continue to be one of the best ways we can address the most pressing issues of our time, from economic problems to climate change,” he said.

He expressed the hope that member states would cooperate in a transparent manner to help develop ICT strategies that would address these major issues.

The Plenipotentiary Conference was officially opened by Mexican President Felipe Calderó n. He said one of the main obstacles in the way of equality among all of the world’ s people is the digital divide.

Mexico’ s Minister of Communication and Transport, Juan Francisco Molinar, told delegates that telecommunications has played a fundamental part in the development of Mexico and in the consolidation of the nation, which spreads over a vast land area. It has long been considered of strategic importance to Mexico, and the arrival of undersea cables some years ago had allowed the country to become part of the global village.

“ Broadband access is one of the most important challenges facing us now, particularly with regards to the developing world,” he said, “ we must also find ways to manage our communications more effectively on a global level.”

UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon sent a message to the opening event, noting that for 135 years, ITU had played an important role in developing world telecommunications.

From the first telegraphs to radio, TV, satellite and internet, the ITU, its member states and members had shown how powerful partnerships can be, he said. He also highlighted the importance of harnessing the power of broadband, to drive trade, commerce, education and health. Referring to last month’ s report by the Broadband Development Commission on telecoms development, he said he looked forward to working with all partners in bringing the visions of the development commission report to fruition.

The event, attended by around 2000 delegates from around the world. is staged every four years to set the union’ s policies, adopt strategic financial plans for the next four years and elect leaders, including councillors for the ITU’ s African region.

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