• Excellency, Volkan Bozkir, President of the United Nations General Assembly
  • My friend, Carlos Slim, our Co-Chair
  • Vice Co-Chairs: Houlin Zhao of ITU & Audrey Azoulay of UNESCO
  • Members of the Broadband Commission
  • Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen

I am pleased to welcome you to the spring meeting of the Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development, and certainly happy to join you as well.

We are honoured to be joined today by a special guest, Mr Volkan Bozkir, President of the United Nations General Assembly.

Let me also welcome the new Commissioners joining us for the first time:

  • Xu Ziyang, President of ZTE
  • Minister Roberto Sánchez, from Spain
  • Nick Read, CEO of Vodafone
  • Mauricio Ramos, CEO of Milicom
  • Rajeev Suri, CEO of Inmarsat

You are all most welcome.

I also congratulate Makhtar Diop on his elevation to Managing Director of the International Finance Corporation. IFC has been a key investor in broadband infrastructure, and we are very fortunate to have Makhtar in this important role.

Broadband usage has exploded during the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, as life has increasingly migrated online, the contrast between the digital haves and have-nots is even more blatant.

This is particularly true for education.

With physical classrooms closed, many students have been unable to join virtual classrooms. Some learners have missed an entire year of schooling.

At the same time, as children spend more time online, we must redouble efforts to ensure they are kept safe.

That is why the Broadband Commission’s Covid-19 Agenda for Action focuses on three points: Resilient connectivity, affordable access, and online safety.

With the deployment of vaccines in many countries, the end of the Covid-19 pandemic is in sight. But the road is still long, particularly in developing economies.

Now is the time to forge new partnerships for universal broadband and scale up the investments required to ensure digital equity.

We have a full agenda today and I wish you fruitful deliberations.

I now call on my Co-Chair, Carlos Slim, to make his remarks. I thank you.