Congratulations Mr Hamadoun Toure, for being elected Secretary General of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) Congratulations to Mr Hamadoun Toure, for being elected Secretary General of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and Mr Houlin Zhao as Deputy Secretary General. Both of them have served in the ITU for the last 8 years and have made significant strides on their own and together.
Mr Toure has been the Director of the Bureau for Telecommunications Development for the last 8 years and has done much to advance the agenda of development within the ITU, albeit within the limits of its politics and the budget allocated for the projects there. Prior to that, Mr Toure also did much to contribute to development agenda during his stay at INTELSAT and ICO, working closely with countries in Africa. In his speech Mr. TourÃ© pointed to the bridging of the digital divide and the securing of global networks as core tasks facing the ITU in the years to come. “For this no new resolutions will be required,” Mr. TourÃ© said. The millennium goals of the United Nations and the resolutions of the World Summit on The Information Society (WSIS) would suffice, he noted.
Mr Zhao joined the TSB (Telecommunications Standardisation Bureau)/CCITT as staff member in 1986 and has also served as the Director of the Bureau for Telecommunications Development for the last 8 years. His achievements include greatly improved the efficiency and effectiveness of ITU-T and TSB, and consequently the ITU relevance to the markets: e.g., creating the NGN Focus Group in 2004. He is also known for his openness and teamwork, and has led greater collaboration between the IETF and ITI-T. I think he will contribute much to developing a new and dynamic vision for the ITU.
(P.S, For those of you who are new to the ITU, the ITU only started its efforts on development with its own budget at the Nice Plenipotentiary 1989, where the BDT was first set up. Prior to that, the ITU conducted development work out of the Technical Cooperation Department (TCD), which was funded by UNDP. The budget was limited and they always had to get it approved by UNDP first, thus whilst they did many interesting projects but nothing on a scale that could make great impact. Even with the BDT, it had its hands tied with very limited budgets and limited agendas. It will be interesting to see whether the election of the former head of BDT is a clear message sent by the ITU delegates that they consider development of telecommunications a key priority of the ITU. This will be seen over the next 2 weeks whether policies and monies are allocated accordingly in this direction too.
As ITU reshapes its agenda and policies post WSIS and IGF, it will be interesting to see if gives more priority and monies on the development of telecommunications and bridging the digital divide. The ITU holds much promise to many developing countries as an advisor and partnerr in development. I had occasion to meet Sir Donald Maitland back in 1986, and studied the struggle of getting people to understand the link between telecommunications development and social and economic development of the country as a whole rather than seeing it only as a “luxury” item (see the Maitland Report). It is possible that the WSIS process, even though they may seemingly be no concrete actions from it, fhas helped ingrain this understanding amongst the delegates (see the Plenary messages from the Ministers of many countries during the ITU Plenipotentiary Conference). )