Your Excellency Blaise Compaoré, President of the Republic of Burkina Faso;
Chancellor Robert Hensler, City of Geneva;
Dr Plamen Vatchkov, Chairman of the ITU Council;
Dr Hamadoun Touré, Secretary General, ITU;
Ministers, Ambassadors and ITU Officials and Staff;
Ladies and Gentlemen:
It is my great pleasure to be with you here today, and to see many of our colleagues who were instrumental in making last year’s Connect Africa Summit in Rwanda such a success.
We applaud ITU’s hard work, in particular Secretary General Dr Touré for your leadership and for harnessing the power of technology in order to extend its benefits to communities worldwide.
I am also most grateful for the invitation to participate in the discussions on how we can strengthen cyber-security, online child protection, and greater use of ICT solutions to mitigate climate change.
Friends and Colleagues;
Now more than ever, there can be no doubt in the vital role of ICT in development – this is why we were very pleased to co-host with ITU the ground-breaking Connect Africa Summit in October 2007.
The Summit provided a platform for taking stock of challenges and achievements, as well as mapping our way forward for building a dynamic ICT sector in Africa.
Investment in this sector continues to rise on our continent – as we register improved infrastructures, regulatory environment, competition, with the African private sector leading the way.
More ICT applications continue to improve people’s lives in sectors as health, education and wealth creation generally as many firms – informal, small, medium and large – expand and contribute significantly to our socioeconomic transformation.
As we are all aware, just as the borderless cyberspace makes the Internet a powerful vehicle for spreading and deepening knowledge and innovations, it also exposes global users to cyber crimes.
It is encouraging to see that conception and implementation of strategies to confront and contain such activities are generating momentum.
We must in this respect draw on the success and experience of existing models to build global awareness and develop practical tools for governments, educators, and parents to minimize risks to young people.
The youth are natural and enthusiastic adopters of technology, and many routinely surf the Web and participate in online chat-rooms, network, and view all types of information and data – some of which are harmful.
For this reason, protection of children and young people must be one of the central pillars of any efforts to ensure a safe online environment.
Ladies and Gentlemen;
An additional challenge facing us is how to harness ICT to help mitigate the devastating effects of climate change.
ICT has a central role to play in climate modelling, forecasting and monitoring, as well as in preventing and responding to natural disasters.
Newer technologies can play an even broader role, helping limit greenhouse gas emissions through more energy-efficient designs and greener production processes.
ITU and other agencies should work even harder with manufacturers and service providers to develop innovative solutions that respond to environmental and developmental challenges.
Let me at this time make a few comments on our own situation in Rwanda, beginning with the fact that creation of cyber-security frameworks was one of the resolutions at the Connect Africa Summit in Kigali.
In this regard, we have had a policy and regulatory framework since 2006 – and several initiatives have been launched to build capacity to secure the ICT infrastructure we are developing.
As the national fibre backbone extends to all corners of Rwanda – scheduled for completion in December 2009, we have incorporated security measures including firewalls at each node.
We are also establishing a cyber-security centre to monitor contraventions and take corrective measures – as we roll out the One Laptop Per Child program, which will drastically increase internet access among the youth, it is imperative to incorporate more effective safeguards.
The insights from this important ITU Council Meeting will make valuable contributions to these efforts.
Friends and Colleagues,
Let me conclude by acknowledging once again the critical role ITU is playing in fostering a more vibrant ICT sector globally. We once again applaud ITU’s leadership in extending the power of technologies to improve the livelihoods of communities worldwide.
It is now my pleasure to declare open this High Level Segment of the ITU Council 2008, and I wish us all fruitful deliberations. I thank you very much for your kind attention.