UN chief spotlights broadband's potential to accelerate development

19 September 2010

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today underscored broadband's ability to spur development, highlighting the technology's potential to advance progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today underscored broadband's ability to spur development, highlighting the technology's potential to advance progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

“Broadband has extraordinary potential for human progress,” Mr. Ban told a gathering in New York of the http://www.broadbandcommission.org/Broadband Commission for Digital Development, bringing together leaders from the private sector, civil society and the creative world.

The 30-member body is chaired by Rwandan President Paul Kagame and Carlos Slim Helú, Mexican businessman and one the world's wealthiest people. Serving as joint vice-chairs are Hamadoun Touré, Secretary-General of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), and Irina Bokova, Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

Aside from broadband's value in delivering health services and in education, Mr. Ban today also noted that it can help to advance development and generate economic activity in other ways, such as through online financial services that could give hundreds of millions of people around the world stepped up access to credit.

Broadband networks can help manage climate change and other crises, and will be as crucial to economic growth as roads, bridges and electricity in coming years, he said.

“But two things must change, if we are to make the best use of broadband for all the world's people,” the Secretary-General stressed.

First, he said, governments must prioritize broadband in their development strategies and speed up its rollout.

Additionally, broadband has to become much more affordable, Mr. Ban emphasized.

In developed countries, the cost of broadband subscriptions is up to 3 per cent of average monthly incomes, while in the least developed nations, they can cost more than an average person's entirely monthly earnings.

“This means that the people who can least afford access to broadband are being asked, proportionately, to pay the most,” the Secretary-General said.

“We must find ways around this injustice, particularly because research shows that broadband services can quickly pay for themselves.”

The Commission submitted a report to Mr. Ban today underlining the need for all people in the world to enjoy broadband's vast benefits.

“Together, you are helping to create a once-in-a-generation opportunity to drive social and economic progress,” he said, thanking the body for “setting forth a clear common vision.”

 

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