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Developing markets take ITU top jobs

ITU decision-making for the next four years will be in the hands of a Secretary-General and Deputy Secretary-General from the emerging telecoms markets.

ITU member states have elected Dr Hamadoun I Touré of Mali as ITU's Secretary-General and China's Houlin Zhao as his Deputy, both for a four-year term. The election took place in Antalya, Turkey during the 17th ITU Plenipotentiary Conference. Mr Touré needed to secure 50% or more of the votes available, namely the 155 countries in attendance. Voting went to a third round, where he won the position with 95 votes, beating his opponent, Germany's Mathias Kurth, who polled 60 votes.

Hamadoun Touré took the opportunity of his election to spell out his vision: he would work with transparency, objectivity and vigour to realise the two main objectives that were central to his campaign, elimination of the Digital Divide and the enhanced security of cyberspace. In his opinion: "The Millennium Development Goals that were endorsed by all the world's leaders as well as the WSIS resolutions are the ingredients we need to get down to work."

Dr Touré holds a Masters Degree in Electrical Engineering from the Technical Institute of Electronics and Telecommunications of Leningrad and a PhD from the University of Electronics, Telecommunications and Informatics of Moscow. He worked for six years at the Office des Postes et Télécommunications du Mali, and then joined Intelsat as Group Director & Regional Director in 1985. Eleven year later he was appointed Director-General, Africa, of ICO Global Communications. ITU is nothing new to Dr Touré who in 2002 was elected to a second term as Director of ITU's Telecommunication Development Bureau.

Houlin Zhao's election was more straightforward. On the first ballot he won 93 votes, defeating Spain's Carlos Sanchez (34 votes) and Turkey's T Ayhan Badwoman (28 votes). He stressed the importance of the post of Deputy Secretary-General, promising to assist the new Secretary-General, the three Directors and the membership to make ITU more dynamic, an organisation that would contribute to the emerging global information society.

Mr Zhao graduated from Nanjing University of Posts and Telecommunications in 1975 before receiving his MSc in telematics from Britain's University of Essex in 1985. After several years with China's Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications Houlin Zhao joined ITU as a staff member of the Telecommunication Standardization Bureau (TSB) until being elected Director of the TSB in 1998. He was re-elected to this post in 2002.

ITU paid full tribute to outgoing Secretary-General Yoshio Utsumi. He leaves a more efficient and effective organisation, having generated a 19% rise in private sector membership and may more relevant services. As well as reviving the interest of private companies in the work of ITU, Mr Utsumi introduced productivity measures that led to expenditure reductions of around 18% per annum. In short ITU experienced a radical overhaul, enabling it to focus on new issues such as the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS).

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