Kigali, 6 June 2022 (TDI): The President of Rwanda and the Co-Chair of the Broadband Commission for sustainable development, Paul Kagame, officiated an annual spring meeting in Kigali on Sunday. The 2022 annual spring meeting of the Broadband Commission was under the theme of “Driving Inclusive Digital Transformation”.
During the @UNBBCom meeting taking place today on the sidelines of the ITU meeting, our DG @lacinakone moderated a session addressing the topic of how to accelerate and ensure affordable universal and equitable access to connectivity. pic.twitter.com/GrgGlmvH8e
— Smart Africa Org (@RealSmartAfrica) June 5, 2022
This meeting took place ahead of World Telecommunication Development Conference. The World Telecommunication Development Conference is a landmark digital development conference that is hosted by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) every four years.
What is the Broadband Commission?
The manifesto of the Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development referred to “affirms the commitment of the Broadband commission to mobilize efforts to achieve the Global Goal of Universal Connectivity.”
The Broadband Commission puts universal broadband connectivity in the lead of international policy discussions. The commission has all kinds of members. Its members include public and private sectors, international organizations, civil society, and academia. The commission gives practical and sustainable policy recommendations. Additionally, these recommendations aim to speed up the progress towards accomplishing the United Nations (UN) 2030 Agenda. Meanwhile, the commission also works on achieving its own seven advocacy targets by offering consultancy.
Paul Kagame in his opening remarks said that all challenges can be dealt with faster better and more equitably by investing in universal, affordable broadband. The commission’s co-chair, Carlos Slim, also expressed the need for connectivity in the ongoing global health crisis era.
ITU/UNESCO #Broadband Commission urges faster global action on digital development and outlines next steps for accelerating inclusive #UniversalConnectivity https://t.co/dUEWR8faVV #ITUWTDC pic.twitter.com/i4igWzk8Wp
— Int’l Telecommunication Union (@ITU) June 5, 2022
Challenges and Solutions for Global Connectivity
The leaders of the Broadband Commission at the meeting discussed the chronic connectivity challenges at the meeting. Also, attendees came up with ways to ensure affordable, sustainable, and equitable access to digital services across all regions. They especially focused on the world’s least developed countries. About 17% of people in the least developed countries have no access to a mobile broadband signal and others are offline due to the expenses and a lack of digital skills and awareness.
Following this observation, the commissioners shared government and business strategies to incentivize investments in digital literacy, connectivity, and skills. Co-vice chair of the commission Houlin Zhao mentioned that reducing the cost of broadband subscriptions and digital devices and making sure that broadband services are affordable is one of the commission’s 2025 targets.
The broadband commission also made an advocacy pledge to the Partner2Connect Digital Coalition. This will enhance inclusive universal connectivity. During the meeting, the General Connect Visionaries Board members also presented the new Call to Action: My Digital Future. This was a product of the first-ever General Connect Youth Summit.