President Paul Kagame

Rwandan President Paul Kagame has called on the Broadband Commission for Digital Development to shift their debate beyond the issue of affordable access to broadband.

He is in Mexico City to co-chair the 7th meeting of the Broadband Commission for Digital Development. The two day meeting brings together over sixty high level representatives from the private and public sectors with a shared commitment to increase access to broadband to underserved communities.

Opening the morning session, President Kagame shared Rwanda's experience and called upon the commissioners present to move the debate beyond the issue of affordable access to broadband: “Broadband is both an enabler and an engine of transformation. In Rwanda, we have witnessed the transformative power of broadband in crucial economic sectors and public service delivery. I believe the time has come for us to shift our thinking beyond connectivity and deliberate more on the transformation agenda.”

President Kagame also pointed to Aldea Digital - the digital village sponsored by the Chairman of the Commission, Carlos Slim and toured during the first day of the meetings -as a clear example of the transformational power of digital technology:

“I congratulate Carlos Slim upon his personal efforts and partnership with the government in ensuring broadband is impacting the lives of ordinary citizens of this country.”

With over five thousand computers, Aldea Digital aims to bridge the digital access gap through workshops including early childhood education, adult literacy as well as a contest to design applications that provide solutions to the community.

President Kagame also invited all Broadband Commissioners to the "Transform Africa Summit" which will be held in Kigali in October 2013. The summit will serve to review the progress made since Connect Africa Summit held in October 2007 and will be an opportunity to consolidate the work of the Broadband Commission with the various initiatives across the continent including those of the African Union-NEPAD.

Echoing President Kagame's call to broaden the meeting's debates, Carlos Slim also emphasised the need to use broadband and digital technologies to contribute to the social sector:

“As we discuss access we must also encourage content development for our national as well as global needs including health and education.”

Vice Chairman of the Broadband Commission and Secretary General of ITU Dr. Tourealso reminded the commissioners of the role of broadband in equalising societies:

“The power of knowledge is based on one key ingredient,the human brain which is equally distributed everywhere in the world. We must work for a world where every citizen can use information, create information and share information.”

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