New York, 21 September 2013

President Kagame today co-chaired the 8th meeting of the Broadband Commission for Digital Development in New York with Carlos Slim. The brain child of Dr. Hamadoun Touré, Secretary-General of the ITU, and Ms Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, the meeting brings together key players in the telecommunication industry in a bid to extend the benefits of high speed internet to all peoples of world. To focus on the work of this energetic and influential set of personalities, the Commission’s report revealed that mobile broadband subscriptions, which allow users to access the web via smart phones, tablets and Wi-Fi-connected laptops, are growing at a rate of 30% per year. By the end of 2013 there will be more than three times as many mobile broadband connections as there are conventional fixed broadband subscriptions.

In his remarks, President Kagame called on members of the Broadband Commission to focus on making the broadband universally accessible to allow massive exploitation of the technology to provide services as an efficiently built and shared utility:

“The model whereby private operators build parallel infrastructure, and compete to provide services in a few lucrative geographical areas is problematic. It duplicates network deployment costs, hampers economies of scale, and affects accessibility and affordability of services. This is the kind of model that we have adopted in Rwanda. The Government of Rwanda and Korea Telecom have established a joint venture, which will build and operate one single, wholesale 4G LTE nationwide network, to be accessed by all retail broadband service providers on an open access basis. We believe this will accelerate rollout and affordability of broadband services for Rwandans.”

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President Kagame expressed optimism on the bridging of the existing digital divide as the commission continues to engage with Broadband technologies, creating a future that bypasses the divides:

“Beyond 2015, the way forward should be to unleash the smart use of broadband to enhance delivery of services in education, health care, banking and other sectors. Broadband should also empower young people in the developing world to innovate and be more competitive globally.”

For the first time, the State of Broadband report also tracks a new target mandating ‘gender equality in broadband access by the year 2020’, which was set by the Commission at its March meeting in Mexico City. ITU figures confirm that, worldwide, women are less likely to have access to technology than their male counterparts. While the gap is relatively small in the developed world, it widens enormously as average income levels fall.

Established in 2010, the Broadband Commission aims to boost the importance of broadband on the international policy agenda and believes that expanding broadband access in every country is key to accelerating progress and achieving the Millennium Development Goals. The Broadband Commission works to define practical ways to ensure that no country is excluded from participating in the global digital economy.