In a statement outlining her vision, American Doreen Bogdan-Martin, who was chosen in September to take over as the ITU's secretary-general, said she wanted to mobilize public-private partnerships to link the 2.7 billion people who still do not have access to the internet.
"The pandemic demonstrated how much we rely on connectivity and how much digital undercuts every sector of the economy. Covid-19 was a wake-up call. It was a real game changer for connectivity," she said.
Bogdan-Martin previously made history as the first woman ever elected to serve on ITU's top leadership team four years ago, when she won her current position as Director of the Telecommunication Development Bureau (BDT).
It's about what You can do with that connectivity
There should be unprecedented funds and commitment to achieve the aims. She cited Partner2Connect, a global initiative Bogdan-Martin put together as Director of ITU's Telecommunication Development Bureau over the last four years.
"It's not just connecting you to the internet. It's about what you can do with that connectivity." Promoting digital skills to leverage and use connectivity while ensuring that connectivity is trusted and safe, affordable, and empowering, remains an important focus. It's the whole of what the digital ecosystem can bring – that goes much beyond the actual connection, she added.
Vision for First 100 Days in Office:
Bogdan Martin has a vision of the ITU that inspires, includes, and innovate in her first 100 days in office. She wants much listening and intensive dialogue with ITU staff and member states to make ITU "the preeminent thought leader and reference point on digital issues".
The role of the ITU has never been more important, Bogdan-Martin said. We are 157 years old, but what we represent – connecting the unconnected, bringing digital technologies to all the world's people - it's never mattered more.
The ITU's "unique multi-stakeholder membership", with 193 member states, close to 900 sector members and relationships with 150-plus academic institutions and civil society, "makes ITU rich, makes ITU meaningful, and makes us relevant", she added.
She went on to emphasize the importance of bringing more women and girls into the information and communication technology (ICT) sector and ITU's work.
She said an overarching theme for her first 100 days would be "One ITU", with regional officials and headquarters needing to work in tandem while radiocommunication, standardization, and development work consistently integrated. "Let's not talk about One ITU; let's be One ITU," she said.