Access to broadband has been identified as a universal catalyst that could lift developing countries out of poverty and put access to health care, education and basic social services within reach of all.
This position was taken at the recently concluded UN Broadband Commission for Digital Development meeting held in Dublin, Ireland, at the invitation of Denis O’Brien, Chairman of the Digicel Group.
The Commission reiterated its call to International community to recognize the transformational potential of high-speed networks. It also urged governments and international financing bodies to work to remove current barriers to investment in telecommunications infrastructure.
The Commission, chaired by President Paul Kagame of Rwanda and Mexico’s Carlos Slim Helú, with ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun I. Touré and UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova as co-Vice Chairs, includes some of the world’s most prominent leaders from technology sector, government, academia and UN agencies. It advocates worldwide accessibility and affordability of broadband, with a particular emphasis on accelerating progress towards the eight United Nations Millennium Development Goals.
“The long-sought panacea to human poverty may at last be within our reach in the form of broadband networks that empower all countries to take their place in the global economy, overcoming traditional barriers like geography, language and resource constraints,” said O’Brien.
In his welcoming remarks, Rwanda’s President Kagame noted that broadband and ICTs can deliver more efficiency in education, health, finance, banking and other sectors. “In Rwanda, the broadband model we have adopted is based on effective public private partnership, guided by what works on the ground,” he said. “This has allowed broadband and ICT to continue to play an important role in the progress we have made towards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.”
Kagame urged commissioners to go beyond infrastructure and work to ensure its use “Our initial focus was on connectivity: to put the infrastructure and tools in place to connect citizens to the digital era. Onwards, our efforts need to focus on unleashing the smart use of broadband to help people use services in ways that will significantly improve their lives.”