Consultative meeting of the
Broadband Commission for Digital Development throws
spotlight on young innovators and debates strategies for getting Africa online.
commissioners and interested representatives of governments, private sector and
civil society met in Rwanda’s capital Kigali this week to focus on challenges,
priorities and strategies that can help get the African continent wired to
meeting, which took place on 8-9 September, was held at the invitation of the
President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, who Co-Chairs the Broadband Commission for Digital Development with Carlos Slim Helú, Honorary Chairman of
Grupo Carso. President Kagame is a staunch champion of the transformational
power of technology, and has prioritized the construction of information and
technology (ICT) networks as part of his national rebuilding programme. The
Commission is co-vice chaired by ITU Secretary-General Dr Hamadoun Touré, and
UNESCO Director-General, Ms Irina Bokova.
meeting’s first day focused on the role of youth in defining new ICT services
and driving take-up. In a continent where over half the population is yet to
reach adulthood, Rwanda has an exceptionally young population, with 42% of
people under the age of 15.
youth possesses the energy, passion and dedication to use these technologies to
address global challenges and truly benefit from ICTs. Our duty as leaders is
to build the right environment and promote the necessary investments to allow
them to fulfil their potential. Let´s not wait another century to recognize
that broadband was another missed opportunity for Africa”,
highlighted President Paul Kagame.
High-level Round Table debates looked at the policies needed to help ensure
African youth gain access to online services such as education, healthcare, and
considered how government and industry can support strategies to encourage
included Max Ahoueke, Minister of Communications and New Technologies, Benin;
Clotilde Nizigama, Minister for Finance, Economy, Cooperation and Development,
Burundi; Brahima Sanou, Director, Telecommunication Development Bureau, ITU; as
well as members of the Broadband Commission, such as Indrajit Banerjee,
Director of the Information Society Division of UNESCO; Cheik Sidi Diarra,
Under Secretary-General, UN Special Adviser on Africa and High Representative
for Least Developed Countries; Professor Jeffrey Sachs, Special Adviser to the
UN Secretary-General for the Millennium Development Goals;Sunil Bharti Mittal,
Chairman, Bharti Airtel; and musician Youssou N’Dour, among others.
at the opening of the Youth session, Dr Hamadoun Touré told participants,
including 135 young students from Kigali’s leading tertiary education
institutions, as well as from other neighbouring countries, that broadband is
the single most powerful tool available to accelerate progress towards
achieving the Millennium Development Goals, and to drive social and economic
(Source: ITU Newsroom)