The UN Broadband Commission for Digital Development met in Dublin on Saturday and Sunday, with some of the most influential figures in the area of telecoms in attendance.
Following the conference, the commission issued a statement saying that broadband could be the catalyst that would help lift some of the most disadvantaged countries in the world out of the poverty trap and help provide them with access to healthcare, education and basic social services.
The conference was hosted by Irish telecoms entrepreneur Denis O’Brien.
Speaking to reporters as the conference ended, the Digicel chairman said: “The long-sought panacea to human poverty may at last be within our reach in the form of broadband networks that empower all countries to take their place in the global economy, overcoming traditional barriers like geography, language and resource constraints.” To drive faster broadband roll-out, Mr O’Brien said governments should lower spectrum licence fees and he advocated the establishment of a “champions’ league” index that tracks best practice in broadband investment and deployment.
Broadband is currently available to around half of the world’s population.
The aim of the commission is to make it available to the entire population of the world over the next 10 years.
Welcoming Mr O’Brien’s remarks, the president of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, noted that information and communication technology, especially broadband, had the capacity to benefit education, health, finance, banking and other sectors.
“In Rwanda, the broadband model we have adopted is based on effective public-private partnership, guided by what works on the ground,” said Mr Kagame.
“This has allowed broadband and ICT to continue to play an important role in the progress we have made towards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.”
Rwanda is installing a 4G mobile broadband network through a public-private partnership.