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Thursday, 27 October 2011

ACP-CTO roundtable stresses broadband’s crucial role in development

Heads of ICT regulators in the ACP region emphasized the importance of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT’s) as a driving force behind development, and called for increased broadband penetration in African, Caribbean and Pacific countries at a roundtable event on Thursday.

The conference, co-organized by the ACP Secretariat and the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organization (CTO), aimed to increase awareness about the latest technological developments and policy trends in Broadband, and its key role in promoting e-governance and e-society.

“I want us to understand and agree that broadband is not simply a technology, a frequency, an ICT instrument or a mere telecom terminology, but rather it is a veritable facilitator of economic development through rapid knowledge acquisition, storage, processing, distribution and utilization,” said former CTO head Dr Ekwow Spio-Garbrah of Ghana in his keynote address.

He pointed to academic research showing the “direct causal relationship” between broadband access and general economic growth. The World Bank estimates that a 10% increase in Internet penetration leads to a 1.38% increase in GDP growth amongst low-middle income countries.

With Broadband penetration in 2009 estimated to be 1.9 percent in sub-Saharan Africa, 7.46 percent in the Caribbean and 1.6 percent in Pacific (excluding Australia and New Zealand), it is apparent that a more concerted effort is needed to catalyse Broadband rollout in ACP countries. The ACP Secretariat and the CTO have decided to help create enabling policy and regulatory environments for broadband rollout in ACP countries, facilitate policy and regulatory harmonisation across regions and provide guidance on optimising the positive impact of Broadband through innovative applications and services. They want to act as a platform for the sharing of knowledge about collaboration, harmonisation, infrastructure sharing, spectrum management, competition and pricing, as well as increasing the spread of mobile broadband.

Source: ACP

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