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Telcoms union demands connection of African rural areas

African Telecommunications UnionFrom MTHULISI SIBANDA in Cape Town
CAPE TOWN – AFRICAN governments have been urged to speed the connection of rural and remote areas to enhance economic opportunities.
Abdoulkarim Soumaila, the African Telecommunications Union, made the call at the AfricaCom, the premier Pan-African technology, telecoms and media event, held in Cape Town, South Africa.
“All people must be able to access the internet in order to exercise and enjoy their rights to a better quality of life, dignity and equality,” Abdoulkarim said.
Statistics from GSMA shows that approximately 53 percent of the world’s population is still unconnected. Four-fifths of this unconnected population is located in Asia-Pacific and in Africa.
On average, 69 percent of the African population does not have access to the internet, with many of those unconnected living in rural areas.
Abdoulkarim said in order to make rural connectivity a reality,governments and stakeholders needed to make it a priority.
“It is necessary to develop suitable networks at an appropriate time and gradually overlay infrastructure and services until the ultimate goal of an ICT Society and Knowledge Economy is achieved,” he said.
Li Peng, President of Huawei Southern Africa said most African policy-makers had created favorable environments for the ICT sector.
He said the private sector also played an important role in provision of
the technology, solution, service and training, help transforming and enriching people’s life through communication.
“Huawei is ready to share our local practices and global expertise with all related stakeholders, to contribute to accelerating ICT development in Africa,” Pemg said.
Siyabonga Cwele, South Africa Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services, said a number of obstacles persisted, including low levels of digital literacy, insufficient infrastructure and the high cost to connect.
He said government approach towards reducing the digital divide should include both the supply side and demand side interventions.
“Creating ICT policies and regulation based on the new ICT ecosystem helps in defining the various roles that will be played,” the minister said.
The business leaders and ministers were speaking at a forum themed, “Build a Better Connected Africa – How to Accelerate the Development of ICT Systems.”
 CAJ News

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