President Paul Kagame has called for digital cooperation to allow efforts of closing the gap in the adoption and use of affordable devices and services in accessible content and in digital literacy.
And the cooperation “needs to go beyond access to broadband,” he said.
The President, who also doubles as the Broadband Commission Chair, was speaking at the 2021 Annual Fall Meeting of the Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development.
Kagame also acknowledged the value in in multi-stakeholder platforms that complement the work of the Broadband Commission, such as the Edison Alliance.
“Harmonizing these initiatives would create useful synergies,” the President said, adding that, “the strength of the Broadband Commission lies in the diversity of the perspectives that our Commissioners bring to the table.”
During the meeting, new Commissioners participating for the first time were recognized. They include;
Hon. Mia Mottley, Prime Minister of Barbados, Her Excellency Mercedes Araoz, former Vice President and Prime Minister of Peru, Ambassador Courtnay Rattray, UN High Representative for Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Countries and Small Island Developing States, Majed Sultan Al-Mesmar, Director General of the Telecommunications and Digital Government Regulatory Authority, United Arab Emirates and Rumman Chowdry, CEO of Parity .io.
Some special guests are also attending the meeting. There is Prof. Klaus Schwab, Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, and, by video, Abdulla Shahid, President of the United Nations General Assembly.
Working Groups presented reports that are one of the tools for debating various ideas and options to fulfill the Commission’s mandate.
In attendance also is Audrey Azoulay, Director General of UNESCO, Houlin Zhao, the Secretary General of the International Telecommunication Union as well as the Broadband Commission’s Co-Chair Carlos Slim who also highlighted the ongoing need for digital cooperation.
“To achieve our universal connectivity goal, we need to work together. We need to build a digital future that is inclusive, affordable, safe, sustainable, and meaningful and people centered. We need to support infrastructure and to deal with affordability and relevant content to ensure usage,” Carlos Slim said. “For that to happen, it requires concerted efforts.”
Audrey Azoulay, Director General of UNESCO and Broadband Commission Co-Vice Chair echoed the same, saying, ‘’A major finding from the data collected by our Commission is that the absence of digital skills remains the largest barrier to internet use.’’
‘’Digital education must therefore be as much about gaining skills as about developing the ability to think critically in order to master the technical aspects and be able to distinguish between truth and falsehood,’’ she concluded.