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Meeting with ITU Secretary General Dr Hamadoun Touré

Dr. Hamadoun Touré – the elected Secretary General of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU)During the ITU Conference I had the honour of a private meeting with Dr Hamadoun Touré, Secretary-General of the ITU since 2006.

The ITU is the oldest United Nations organisation (1865), but Dr Touré fondly describes it as ‘young at heart’. It represents an industry that is currently driven largely by young people, and one that attracts the attention of many young people.

Dr Touré has a fascinating background. Born in Mali and educated in Russia, he has brought with him a distinctly fresh approach to the ITU. He has been Africa’s Regional General Manager for ICO Global Communications and worked at various levels at the International Telecommunications Satellite Organization (INTELSAT).

He is committed to making ITU an innovative, forward-looking organisation, adapted to meeting the challenges created by the new ICT environment.

So it was no wonder he was interested and supportive of the trans-sector concept that I have been working on with the governments of Australia, USA, New Zealand and the Netherlands.

At the ITU conference there was a great deal of discussion about the many socio-economic benefits of ICT, but there was little evidence of vision from the various government representatives (Ministers and other national dignitaries) on how to actually form this into a workable model. Of course the Australian developments received a lot of praise, from Dr Touré also; however most countries are still struggling to find a way to make matters work in their local situation.

I also mentioned to the Secretary General that I believe it is a question of leadership, and I used the examples of leadership shown by President Obama and Prime Minister Rudd to highlight this. I also mentioned my meeting with the government of the Netherlands, where we still have some hard work to do on the leadership issue. Many of the building blocks are actually in place in this country—in fact they may even be slightly ahead of the game—but without leadership we will not gain the trans-sector benefits that a broadband ICT infrastructure has to offer.

Dr Touré indicated that he shares the conviction that these changes need to be driven from the top—that is why he has been using his ‘Heads of State’ platform at the conference to push that message to the various country heads present at the event.

I asked him for ITU leadership on this issue and he indicated he was interested in following this up in more detail with me during my next visit.

By Paul Budde, Managing Director of Paul Budde Communication

Paul is also a contributor of the Paul Budde Communication blog located here.

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