KIGALI - President Paul Kagame and fellow co-chair of the Broadband Commission, Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim, will ask global leaders to address the broadband connectivity challenges during next month’s Broadband Leadership Summit.
The Summit, which brings together World leaders, is scheduled to take place in Geneva from October 24 to 27.
The connectivity challenges were highlighted during the just concluded two-day Broadband Commission’s Youth Forum held in Kigali.
Both President Kagame and Slim emphasised the need to ensure accessibility and affordability of broadband, as the two proved to be main challenges expressed by the youth and stakeholders, during the high level meeting.
The Head of State pointed out that the meeting that drew youth representatives from the continent, global broadband providers and ICT experts from around the world, aimed at identifying the challenges of accessing broadband or the lack of it.
“We are identifying problems in having access, in affordability and how broadband or the lack of it affects either doing business or different aspects of what we know leads to our development,” President Kagame said.
“The whole idea is not just about identifying problems, I think it is more about finding solutions. This is a commission that draws people from different backgrounds that have what to bring to the table in terms of solution”.
The President pointed out that the commission is determined to engage world leaders to act and find ways of increasing accessibility and affordability of broadband.
The Head of State noted that the discussions in Kigali were ‘quite fruitful’ with both the commission and the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) bringing together the best there is in ICT, together with the youth to debate how broadband holds the future of the world.
“The commission’s job is to bring to the world the understanding that broadband is not only the present and the future in terms of our development, but also how it can be leveraged together with other technologies to support development,” Kagame said.
The President went on to say that the Kigali meeting also aimed at identifying how best broadband can help achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
“We are looking at how broadband can contribute to the attainment of MDGs by 2015 but the importance of broadband and how it contributes to development goes beyond that,” he observed.
“We focussed on the youth and the value they represent for the development and future of Africa---and how this segment of stakeholders can become active players”.
Slim supported the plan to urge world leaders to sustain efforts that will make broadband easily accessible and affordable or even ‘free’ in hot spots such as schools and public digital libraries.
The billionaire called for a breakthrough to make broadband available and at a low cost, just like the penetration of mobile telephone connectivity. This, he emphasised, would require the commitment of both leaders and service providers.
“Not only the elite should have access to this technology but all the people should have the opportunity to use these applications. It is not magic that will solve economic problems, but a powerful tool like broadband can advance our societies,” Slim advised.
He added that what is important today is not the need to discover new technologies but rather how to make the existing ones available to the masses.
The Secretary General of the ITU, Dr. Hamadoun Toure, said that the way forward is to ensure that at least half of the world’s population has affordable access to broadband internet by 2015 and this is what global leaders will discuss in the October meet.
“Our mission now is to ensure that broadband is very high on the agenda of every nation by 2015. The vision has been put in place here in Rwanda and we would like to see this happen in other countries as well,” Dr. Toure said.