Internet Governance Forum

Opening Remarks by Mr. Sha Zukang, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, Secretary-General of the 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development

Delivered by Mr. Thomas Stelzer, Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Co-ordiantion & Inter-Agency Affairs

Your Excellency, Mr. Mwai Kibaki, President of the Republic of Kenya,
Honorable Samuel Poghisio, Minister of Information and Communications,
Honorable Ministers,
Distinguished Experts,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am happy to be here with you in Nairobi at this important event.  It is also my pleasure to deliver a message on behalf of the Under-Secretary-General Sha Zukang, who could not be with us today. I quote:

On behalf of the United Nations Secretary-General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon, I would like to thank the Government of Kenya for hosting the sixth meeting of the Internet Governance Forum – the IGF. This is the first IGF to be held in Sub-Saharan Africa and I thank you for your warm welcome and gracious hospitality.

The IGF came out of the Tunis Agenda at the end of World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in 2006. Since then it has continued to encourage open and honest exchange through a multi-stakeholder process as mandated in Tunis. It has helped government officials, civil society, the private sector, technical community representatives, and UN agency leaders to work together to bridge the digital divide and to afford the benefits of the Internet to all. Moreover, the multi-stakeholder approach of the IGF provides an opportunity for all stakeholders to be informed and included in defining options and debating choices, and to contribute to other key debates.

Building on the momentum of previous years, and in particular following the success of the last annual meeting in Lithuania, we hope this IGF in Kenya will further define emerging issues in Internet governance and set the path for a way forward. Indeed, this occasion marks the first meeting of the IGF under its renewed mandate. The decision to renew the mandate was made by the United Nations General Assembly on 20 December 2010 in recognition of the successes the IGF achieved in its first five years and its continuing relevance to the development of a global information society.

The theme of IGF 2011 is “Internet as a catalyst for change: access, development, freedoms and innovation”. In view of the Internet’s impact in transforming the world we live in, this year’s Forum will focus on the Internet as a medium for positive change and human development. Indeed, the debate at this IGF should be encouraged by the continuing advances in access to the Internet and the potential for development through, innovation, entrepreneurship and freedom.
Given that Internet governance and the spread of ICTs offer both opportunities and challenges for development, there is a great expectation that the next four days will offer stimulating debate around these challenges and opportunities as we discuss the main themes of the 2011 IGF. In particular the cross cutting priority session on Internet Governance for Development will generate discussion on how the Internet can foster sustainable development, freedom and innovation; for example through improved education and knowledge while empowering citizens.

The growth in the number of Internet users worldwide offers an opportunity to use the Internet as a medium to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. In some countries, more than 80 per cent of households have Internet access, almost all of them through a broadband connection, and many of them through mobile networks. In Kenya, over 60 per cent of the population uses a mobile phone and there are 4.7 million Internet subscriptions, the vast majority gaining access through mobile devices. Kenya is known for highly advanced mobile banking services, which have brought financial services to much of the population for the first time.

Today it is estimated that the number of people with access to the Internet in the home has increased from 1.4 billion, in 2009, to almost 1.6 billion, in 2010.

However, digital divides between developed and developing countries, and between urban and rural areas, remain prevalent. Access to ICT is also limited to disadvantaged populations, as well as persons with disabilities.

The rise in access to the Internet means that the debate over fixed versus mobile access has been eclipsed by more profound issues – such as the need to analyze specific global Internet governance issues relevant to development, and to determine how to promote capacity building in critical Internet resources and to foster innovation while addressing cross-border Internet security issues.

We also hope to encourage open discussions on emerging issues such as cloud computing services for development, Internet governance in Africa and digital technologies for civic engagement and social change. We know that more and better information can bring public value and greater transparency in public life. Relevant information freely available enriches people’s lives and contributes to better governance. But we also know that digital literacy is a key element for ensuring better information leading to a more inclusive society and helping development potential offered by the Internet come to full realization.

Dialogue on managing critical Internet resources centre on policy issues affecting global development, and, in particular, on examining the issues of deploying new resources. I hope the debate here will continue to refine our understanding of the appropriate local and international institutional arrangements. Discussion on security, openness and privacy can be addressed in light of the increasing number of young users. At the same time, international cyber attacks are a growing concern. Cloud governance is an attempt to make the Internet sustainable and serve as a positive international change. I expect that the IGF this year will continue to move the debate forward and use the multi-stakeholder process of the IGF to secure enhanced dialogue on this issue.

Next June in Rio de Janeiro, the United Nations will convene a summit level conference on sustainable development, also known as Rio+20. At Rio, we will assess progress to date and the remaining gaps in implementation, and address new emerging opportunities and challenges. As part of the Rio+20 process, the IGF can make a significant contribution as discussions around Internet governance have become ever more crucial in setting the ICT agenda and in solidifying the Internet as a catalyst for positive change and supporting sustainable development.


We have been given the opportunity to continue the debate on the use of the Internet and the appropriate governance mechanisms for it. I wish to thank the Government of Kenya again for their generosity and I wish you all well in your multi-stakeholder debates over the next few days. I would also like to express our appreciation to the international donor community for providing the financial support to the IGF project allowing it to fund seven participants from the developing countries to attend the Forum as well as the staff of the IGF Secretariat. I hope that the community of donors will continue and increase its financial support of the IGF project to secure the implementation of the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 65/141 of 20 December 2010 for a further five years of the IGF, putting it in line with general WSIS review that is expected to take place in 2015.

In accordance with the custom of the IGF, I now have the honor to invite Honorable Samuel Poghisio, Minister of Information and Communications, Republic of Kenya, to assume the Chairmanship of the meeting on behalf of the host country. Excellency, you have the floor. End of quote.

Thank you.