Pretoria — Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services, Dr Siyabonga Cwele, is attending the 2017 United Nations Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development meeting in Hong Kong.
Minister Cwele is one of 52 global Broadband Commissioners that are drawn from leaders in government, business, academia, policy makers and international agencies.
"The commission discusses strategies of connecting the four billion people, who are presently not connected to broadband or fast internet in a cost efficient manner.
"This year's meeting will discuss strategies to connect more women to the internet," the Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services said on Thursday.
The 2017 Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development's Working Group on the Digital Gender Divide identified that the global internet user gender widened from 11% in 2013 to 12% in 2016. The gap in Africa is 23%.
"The United Nations has identified Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) as a key facilitator in socio economic development and poverty reduction," the department said.
The 17 Sustainable Development Goals include four that relate to ICTs. The attainment of these goals is linked to the universal and affordable access to broadband.
"South Africa has developed policies that are aimed at ensuring that nobody is left behind in the move to the digital information society. These policies provide a framework for providing access to affordable, reliable and secure internet," the department said.
Minister Cwele is expected to present information on how the Government and the private sector are expanding their networks to cover the underserved and rural areas.