broadband meeting highlights key role of youth
meeting of the Broadband Commission for
throws spotlight on young innovators
and debates strategies for getting Africa online
Geneva, 9 September 2011 – Broadband 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 high-speed networks.
meeting, which took place on 8-9 September, was held at the invitation of the
President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, who Co-Chairs the
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.
“African 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.
Two 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 youth entrepreneurship.
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
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 development.
21st century, with broadband, no young African should ever again need to be sent
abroad in order to enjoy the benefits of an excellent education,” said Dr Touré.
“If you are connected, it no longer matters if you are geographically or
socially isolated; you are still connected to the information society. But if
you are not connected, you are – literally – cut off from a whole portion of the
The programme also
featured an Innovation Competition showcasing 11 exciting new apps created by
young Rwandan developers. The two winners, M-AHWIII and Osca, will be sponsored
to represent Rwanda at the forthcoming
ITU Telecom World 2011 Digital Innovators
competition in October.
also served also as a preparatory meeting for the upcoming global
Broadband Leadership Summit, which will take place in Geneva, Switzerland on
24-25 October as part of
ITU Telecom World
will bring together Heads of State, Prime Ministers, Ministers, CEOs of major
companies, Heads of UN Agencies and regulators from across the globe. It will
allow leaders to connect, exchange knowledge, seal deals, share best practices
and help extend the social and economic benefits of high-speed networks.
Broadband prices falling, but much of Africa remains
released by ITU earlier this year show that worldwide, on average, consumers are paying 50% less for
high-speed Internet connections than they were two years ago. However, this fall
is mainly due to price decreases in developing countries, with steep declines
often reflecting the extremely high cost of broadband in the developing world.
In 32 countries, a
broadband connection still cost more than 50% of monthly GNI per capita in 2010.
And in 19 of those nations, the monthly price of a fast Internet connection was
still more than 100% of monthly average income.
trends, Africa continues to stand out for its relatively high prices. Fixed
broadband Internet access in particular remains prohibitively expensive. By
2010, only one out of nine people in Africa had access to the Internet, and
fixed broadband penetration was just 0.2% – compared to 24% in Europe and 26% in
For more information, please contact:
Coordinator of the Broadband Commission
International Telecommunication Union
Permanent Secretary, Ministry of ICT
Office of the President
Republic of Rwanda