CTO Africa Forum Adopts Prudent Measures to Connect Rural Communities / Sharing best practices, experiences, implementation challenges and realistic resolutions
A diverse group of ICT stakeholders comprising Ministers, regulators, telecom operators and leading ICT global brands convened at the 5th Annual Connecting Rural Communities (CRC) 2010 conference in Accra, Ghana to discuss and explore potential future solutions for bridging the digital divide in Africa. Organized by the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO) and hosted in collaboration with the Ministry of Communications, Ghana, National Communications Authority and the Ghana Investment Fund for Electronic Communications (GIFEC), the three-day conference was formally opened by Ghana’s Minister for Communications, Honourable Haruna Iddrisu.
In a speech read by the Communications Minister on behalf of the President of Ghana, His Excellency John Evans Atta Mills, Honourable Haruna Iddrisu said that, “In connecting rural communities, we in Africa, should embrace ICT infrastructure deployment as part of a unified and comprehensive economic development strategy that also addresses issues of education, health, governance and commerce.”
He went on to stress the Ghana Government’s commitment and support towards developing a broadband infrastructure for e-government services to cater to the needs of the common citizen in underserved regions. In his message President Mills also expressed his hope that the conference would provide ICT stakeholders the platform for initiation of Public-Private-People Partnerships to provide effective and affordable ICT services to the rural community.
Ably chaired by Ghana’s Deputy Minister for Communications, Honourable Gideon Quarcoo, and led by the CEO of the CTO, Dr. Ekwow Spio-Garbrah, the three-day conference was kicked-off with thought-provoking opening remarks and presentations from a panel of a powerful and distinguished selection of ICT and telecommunications experts that included the Secretary-General of ITU, Dr. Hamadoun Toure, the President of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), His Excellency Mr. Victor Gbeho, the CEO of Ghana’s foremost Mobile Phone Company, MTN, Mr. Brett Goschen and Intel’s Director of the Corporate Affairs Group for Sub-Saharan Africa, Mr. Thabani Tonny Khupe, who spoke on the importance of connecting rural African communities into the knowledge economy.
Reiterating on President Mills’ message, Dr Ekwow Spio-Garbrah, pointed out that over seventy per cent of the people in Commonwealth countries did not have access to basic communication infrastructure and hence were unconnected despite advancements within the ICT sector. He added that with African countries now taking a more democratic turn and with an increase in exports, there is a need for these countries to harness the potential for ICT development in its development strategy in order to drive forward the economy.
“The CTO has been at the forefront of forging rural ICT connectivity through various programmes and initiatives. By encouraging private-public-people partnerships, there is benefit for all stakeholders involved, especially rural communities in Africa that are in much need of cost-effective ICT services,” he added.
The conference, with the theme, “Connecting rural Africa on a cost-effective, sustainable and profitable basis through Public Private Peoples Partnerships” is being attended by an impressive audience of ICT stakeholders from over twenty countries, and supported by some of the leading ICT organizations and associations such as Intel, MTN, Intelsat, Ltd., Seamless, Telkom Group, Research In Moyion, Ericsson, Flexenclosure, Gilat Satellite Networks Ltd., Amara Raja, Coral Telecom, Bharti Airtel Limited, Phase3 Telecom Limited, Grintek Ewation (Pty) Ltd, K-NET, TKM MAESTRO Ltd., MainOne Cable Company and GCNet, indicative of increased interest in the programme.
Relevant topics that will be covered at the conference will focus on rural connectivity policy implementation, rural connectivity through effective regulation, rural communities and mobile banking, infrastructure development and funding and equipment, technology and applications and most importantly, the role of Public-Private-Peoples’ Partnerships for rural connectivity.
The Connecting Rural Communities conference series highlight the CTO’s realistic vision to “deepen, expand and diversify the partnerships between governments, businesses and other organizations to reduce global poverty and achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for ICT”. To complement this programme, the organisation will be hosting the 4th Annual Rural Communities Asia 2010 Forum in Jaipur, India, from the 16-18 November 2010.
This article was originally posted on West Africa Business Communities