The New Times (Kigali)

Rwanda: Broadband Indispensable for Development - Kagame

President Paul Kagame yesterday co-chaired the 9th meeting of the UN Broadband Commission for Digital Development in Dublin, Republic of Ireland.

Opening the meeting, President Kagame emphasised the importance of broadband in achieving sustainable development.

"For us in Rwanda, broadband and ICTs play a major role in the progress we have so far made towards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. Broadband and ICTs contribute to our economic growth and help deliver more efficiently in education, health, finance and banking and other sectors," the President told the forum.

Kagame also reminded the representative of the various sectors present of the importance of honest dialogue and cooperation between the public and private sector.

"The broadband model we have adopted is based on effective public-private partnership, guided by what works on the ground. We believe that there must be candid and consistent dialogue between industry and government - the kind that will generate trust and productivity," President Kagame said.

He called on the members of the Broadband Commission to move beyond infrastructure and focus on ensuring access and affordability to services.

"Our initial focus was putting in place the infrastructure and tools to connect citizens to the digital era, and accelerating roll-out and affordability of broadband services, especially for mobile broadband. We should now focus on unleashing the smart use of broadband to help people use services in ways that will significantly improve their lives," he said.

Yesterday's meeting concluded with various recommendations including the need for governments and international financing bodies to work closely to remove barriers to investment and the establishment of a champion's league index that will track best practice in broadband investment and deployment.

Concluding the meeting, President Kagame pledged to match ITU's donation for the building of a robotic device that can transform the life of Joanne O'Riordan and many others.

Born without limbs, Joanne O'Riordan challenged the UN telecommunications to build a robot that could improve her life.

Established in 2010, the Commission is a top-level advocacy group which focuses on strategies to make broadband more available and affordable worldwide, with particular emphasis on accelerating progress towards the eight UN Millennium Development Goals.

The Commission is co-chaired by President Kagame and Mexico's Carlos Slim Helú, with ITU Secretary-General Dr Hamadoun I. Touré and Unesco Director-General Irina Bokova as co-vice-chairs.

Members of the Commission include some of the world's most prominent leaders from the tech sector, government, and UN agencies.

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