18 June 2005 - Welcome Address By Mr Leong Keng Thai, Deputy Chief Executive and Director-General (Telecoms), Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore At First Preparatory Meeting For ITU Plenipotentiary Conference 2006 (PP-06), Raffles City Convention Centre.
Welcome Address By Mr Leong Keng Thai, Deputy Chief Executive and Director-General (Telecoms), Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore At First Preparatory Meeting For ITU Plenipotentiary Conference 2006 (PP-06) on 18 June 2005, Raffles City Convention Centre.
Executive Director of APT, Mr Narayan,
Distinguished Delegates from the Asia-Pacific region,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
1. Let me once again extend a warm welcome to you to Singapore. I know that some of you have been here all week for the imbX and CommunicAsia exhibition and trade show. Others have just arrived for this meeting.
2. Singapore is honoured to be hosting the First Preparatory Meeting for the ITU Plenipotentiary Conference (PP-06). Today's meeting represents an important role of the APT. By helping the countries of the Asia-Pacific region to think about common or harmonized positions in advance of global meetings like PP-06, the APT serves to strengthen the collective voice and influence of our region at these global meetings.
Asia-Pacific Has an Important Voice
3. This region has an important collective voice at global meetings like PP-06. Two-thirds of the world's people live in this region. This region is a fast growing market and is in many senses, a heavy-weight in the area of telecommunications. According to ITU statistics, the Asia-Pacific region accounts for 41% of the global telecom market in 2003. In many countries, such as China, India and Pakistan, mobile phone penetration exceeds that of fixed lines. The Asia Pacific region also has the highest share of global broadband subscribers of 42.9% in 2003. Of course, this figure is mainly contributed by a few countries, including the Republic of Korea which has the world's highest broadband penetration rate.
4. However, the region is a very diverse one and the picture is not entirely rosy. The digital divide is still a major challenge for us. Only 13% of the population in the region has access to a phone line. Overall, the Internet penetration rate in the Asia Pacific Region is 7.2% in 2003 which still lags behind Europe with 24.7% and the Americas with 27%.
5. So while the region has some of the most ICT-advanced countries in the world, it also has some of the least developed. The diversity of the region means there will probably be a myriad of views which our region can express and contribute to at world forums like PP-06.
Issues Facing PP-06
6. The Plenipotentiary Conference is the highest body of the ITU. It sets the Union's general policies, adopts a five-year strategic and financial plan and elects the ITUs senior management team, the countries comprising the ITU Council and Radio Regulations Board.
7. This preparatory meeting therefore kicks off the APT's efforts to help identify the key issues of concern to Asia-Pacific countries, caucus these views with other regions of the world and to help our region collectively provide this input to the PP-06. I understand that at the last Plenipotentiary Conference held in 2002 in Marrakech, APT put forward important common proposals on issues such as election procedures, reforming the structure of the ITU and bridging the digital divide.
8. One important milestone in the APT's preparatory process for PP-06 will be the upcoming World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS). I gather issues such as Internet governance, ICTs for disaster relief and mitigation, Spam, VoIP and network security will feature at WSIS and will have an impact on the ITUs priorities.
9. I am sure that we will hear a wide range of views at the meeting today on what PP-06 should focus on. This is natural, given the different realities of the many countries in this region. For Singapore, we have just started our own preparations for PP-06 and we look forward to hearing your views today.
10. For me, I believe the upcoming Plenipotentiary Conference should give due regard to ensuring ITU's long-term viability by prioritizing its financial management, redoubling its efforts to include and engage industry in its activities and staying close to the needs of the different regions by actively continuing the decentralization of its functions and activities. I am sure ITU already recognizes the significance of the changes brought about by the Internet, convergence and the liberalization of the telecom sector. I strongly believe that there may be a new model of managing the ITU which gives it greater focus. In a changed world, the value proposition of ITU will also change over time. At the risk of being controversial, you may wish to think about what value proposition does ITU bring to your countries and industries as the telecom environment changes, and express these views at PP-06.
11. I am very confident that ITU will continue to be a key player in this new environment and will strive to stay relevant. Singapore is grateful to the ITU for its efforts in the region so far. In particular, I have found the Global Symposium for Regulators and the Thematic Meetings which the ITU has organized on issues such as cyber-security and spam very useful.
12. I am sure you will have a lot to discuss today. So, let me bring my opening address to a close now and leave you to begin your work.
13. But I do hope the Chair of this meeting will bear in mind that today is Saturday! The meeting should be brought to a quick and efficient conclusion so that delegates will have some time to relax and enjoy the sights and attractions of Singapore.
14. Thank you all for your attention. I wish you a productive and rewarding meeting. Have a very pleasant stay in Singapore.