Opening Remarks By Dr Yaacob IBRAHIM, Minister for Communications and Information, at the 9th Ministerial Forum on ICT
Opening Remarks By Dr Yaacob IBRAHIM, Minister for Communications and Information, at the 9th Ministerial Forum on ICT, 17 June 2013, 10.30am at Jasmine Room, Level 3, Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre
Shaping the Future through ICT
Honourable Ministers, Excellencies, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, Good Morning.
Welcome to the Ministerial Forum on ICT 2013. Since the first Ministerial Forum in 2005, ICT Ministers from different regions have convened in Singapore to exchange views on key ICT issues, ahead of the week-long Infocomm Media Business Exchange, or imbX - Asia’s largest ICT and media platform.
This year marks the ninth edition of our Forum, and it is with great pleasure that we partner the World Economic Forum (WEF) for the second year running.
Recap of 2012 Ministerial Forum
- Last year’s Ministerial Forum centred on the theme of “ICT for Greater Growth”. We discussed strategies to leverage the power of ICT to spur growth, development and competitiveness. We also shared on successful projects implemented in our countries and recognised the value of developing infrastructure, content and services to foster ICT advancement.
Theme for Ministerial Forum on ICT 2013
According to the International Telecommunications Union or ITU’s latest ICT Facts and Figures Report 2013 , there are 6.8 billion mobile-cellular subscriptions worldwide, with global mobile-cellular penetration of 96 per cent. Almost 40 per cent of the world’s population, or 2.7 billion people, are now using the Internet. We are also seeing higher broadband penetration rates with greater affordability, with fixed-broadband prices falling by 82 per cent since 2008.
Our technological advancements have led to an exponential growth of our population’s demand for ICT, in ways we live, work and play. In less than a decade, the number of active Facebook users has crossed the billion-mark ; there are over 200 million active Twitter users in just seven years ; and 72 hours worth of video are being uploaded to YouTube  every minute!
It is fitting therefore, that the theme for this year’s Ministerial Forum, is “Shaping the Future through ICT”. This underscores the important role that ICT plays in a highly connected world, in promoting socio-economic development and innovation.
While we leverage opportunities and growth bought about by ICT, we must also be aware of risks to businesses and our people. Greater dependence on cyber connectivity for the daily functions of our societies and economies makes connectivity and infrastructure resilience critical issues.
In the WEF’s Global Risks 2013 Report , one of the top three risk cases in today’s environment is what has been termed as “Digital Wildfires in a Hyperconnected World”. This refers to the viral spread of misleading information envisaged to adversely affect the stability of societies and result in severe, real-world consequences. This is a challenge that policy makers in ICT will have to address and tackle.
With ICT as a central pillar for future growth, our key challenge is to understand the potential of ICT as a tool to shape our economies and to meet future challenges. Analysys Mason, in its report on Internet growth , has highlighted the Internet as a driver for growth and opportunities. It also emphasised that spurring access and adoption of the Internet has the ability to transform and improve economies.
Governments should continue to develop policies to keep ICT affordable for citizens, while fostering conducive business environments and encouraging public-private partnerships to create opportunities for all. The World Bank has also recognised this and has highlighted ICT’s potential for greater development impact in its 2012-2015 ICT Strategy Report . This will enable us to ensure that our peoples can benefit from a better quality of life - one that is harnessed from the transformative nature of infocomm.
Introduction of Speakers and Programme
This year, we are pleased to have with us two distinguished speakers. Mr Bert Hofman, who has over 20 years of experience providing economic policy counsel to governments around the world, will share with us his insights on the economic potential of engaging ICT opportunities and challenges. Mr Michael Kende, former Director of Internet Policy Analysis at the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, will provide us with his analysis on strategic considerations in ICT for policy makers worldwide.
Moderating today’s proceedings is Mr Satyanarayan Ramamurthy, who has over 20 years of experience advising governments and private sector entities in the region. Together, they will lead us in our discussions on ICT’s role in shaping our future.
- Let me once again bid you a warm welcome to this Forum. It is my hope that you will have a memorable stay in Singapore, and a most fruitful time at imbX. Thank you.
Notes to Editor: