The Africa Broadband and Universal Service Funds (USF) forum brought together Government Ministries, policymakers, regulatory authorities, telecom providers, international organizations, Universal Service Fund Managers and other broadband stakeholders from all over Africa in Kigali for a three-day forum this week.
The Intel forum hosted in collaboration with Rwanda’s Ministry of ICT will have a special focus on the broadband implementation plan in various African countries, as well as challenges and solutions to obstacles in program development, implementation and operations.
The Rwanda’s Minister of Youth and ICT, Jean Philbert Nsengimana speaking to the press stressed that “Rwanda is one of largest broadband adopters on the continent; we are here to learn about what is it we can do to further accelerate the growth of ICT uptake and impact also how we use ICT to drive ICT for entrepreneurship and innovation.”
Ralph Corey, Director within the World Ahead Program at Intel says, “as the world becomes more dependent on information and communication technology (ICT), broadband Internet access and usage is increasingly becoming recognized as essential to economic growth and the provision of education, healthcare, and other basic services. Despite this growing acceptance however, developing countries continue to struggle to find affordable and sustainable ways to provide widespread access to digital devices and broadband connections, especially in rural and remote areas.”
“USFs play an important role in the transition of developing countries to full broadband-enabled societies. This primarily includes the transformation of education systems through technology, and sustained job creation in industries that benefit from having access to information and global markets,” says Corey.
We have a great digital divide in Africa to conquer, and we will fall further behind if we don’t act quickly,” said Corey. “Broadband access and ICT networks enable delivery of information, goods and services that stimulate economic growth and help domestic businesses compete. Without such access, remote communities risk becoming increasingly marginalized and lacking in essential educational, medical, government, e-commerce and social services.”
With over 50 delegates from 15 countries from across the globe attended the event will share real world practices and examples from governments, industry and civil society around Africa, on overcoming obstacles in developing Broadband and USF policy.
The event will also address the latest issues and best practices in utilizing Universal Service Funds (USFs) for broadband adoption, broadband strategy and national plans and examples of demand creation programs to engage the citizens and help reduce the digital divide.