Technology, financing key in bringing broadband to world’s poorest communities – Report

The New Broadband Commission report of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and UNESCO says in order to provide broadband to poor communities, governments around the world need to rapidly formulate and implement national multi-sectoral broadband plans.

The report, entitled “Broadband: A Platform for Progress” advocated for mechanisms that can mix appropriate “technologies, innovative financing, training and locally relevant content” in order to realise this achievement.

The report which was released early this month by the Broadband Commission for Digital Development stated that if these approaches are not taken, then countries “risk being seriously disadvantaged in today’s increasingly high-speed digital environment.”

“To optimize the benefits to society, broadband should be coordinated on a countrywide basis, promoting facilities-based competition and with policies encouraging service providers to offer access on fair market terms…efforts should be coordinated across all sectors of industry, administration and the economy,” the report argues.

It added that developing isolated projects or piecemeal, duplicated networks is not only inefficient but rather delays provision of infrastructure that is becoming as crucial in the modern world as roads or electricity supplies.

Citing some case studies undertaken in some countries by leading consultancies, the report makes a strong case for broadband as a driver of economic growth and new jobs.

“In China, for instance, every 10% increase in broadband penetration could contribute an extra 2.5% to GDP growth,” the report said.

Other data cited in the report suggests that, for low- and middle-income countries, a 10-percentage-point rise in broadband penetration could add up to a 1.4-percentage point rise in economic growth.

Another management consultancy, McKinsey & Company, the report said estimates that “a 10% increase in broadband household penetration delivers a boost to a country’s GDP that ranges from 0.1 percent to 1.4 percent.”

Reacting to the findings of the report, the ITU Secretary-General Dr Hamadoun Touré in a statement said “This new Broadband Commission report indicates that improvements in broadband penetration directly correlate to improvements in GDP. Basically, the more available and cheaper broadband access is, the better for a country’s economy and growth prospects.”

UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova who also commented said “Access to broadband is only one part of the picture – developing human capacity is absolutely vital, to ensure that individuals have the skills to make the most of new technologies.”

“All actors – national, international, private and public must work together to these ends since the case for this has been made and now we must make it happen,” she added.


By Ekow Quandzie

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