Increased access to high-speed internet can help to bridge the digital divide between developed and developing countries, according to ICT solutions provider, Huawei.
Li Dafeng, Regional President for Huawei East and South Africa, said ICT is playing a critical role in sustainable development in the global economy.
“Today, people and organizations are more efficient and productive due to access to speed network, smart phones usage, numerous applications, and cloud computing systems, making our society more intelligent and energy-saving,” he said during the Broaderway Forum for Kenya held on the sidelines of the Cyber Security East Africa Conference.
The Broaderway Forum, held in various countries by Huawei, brings together leaders and experts from the country’s information and communications technology (ICT) industry to explore opportunities for the future of national broadband.
In his speech during the opening ceremony, Mr Li Dafeng said: “Huawei is committed to support broadband development globally and we are pleased to bring together some of the best minds in the industry at our Broaderway Forum to steer dialogue on this important topic and inspire actions that will enrich the lives of Kenyans and the region at large.”
He said a study conducted by the World Bank shows that for developing countries, a 10% increase in broadband penetration increases GDP by 1.38%. The European Commission estimates that by 2015, broadband will create more than two million jobs, with an increase of at least 636 billion euros to GDP. “Broadband has therefore become an important enabler for social services and a key engine for economic growth,” he added.
Mr Dafeng, however, noted that many countries and continents still lack basic network coverage. In Africa for instance, less than 10% of the population has Internet access, which is far lower than the global average of 30%. The divide for broadband penetration is even larger with a large number of developing countries with a penetration rate of less than 1%, compared with 30% in developed countries. “The digital divide has become a serious barrier to local development, causing an even greater imbalance in global economic development,” he said.
He said the elements critical to bridging the digital divide include leadership and support of governments in setting telecommunications penetration targets and facilitating equal access to internet for everyone through innovative products and technologies. “Huawei’s national broadband solution, for instance, allows households and enterprises to enjoy broadband access of up to 100M and 1G bandwidths respectively with openness, high speed and low costs,” he said.
Kenya ICT Board chief executive Paul Kukubo said the country is strengthening ICT as a driver of economic growth in line with Visio 2030 economic blueprint. He said a five-year Master Plan has been developed by Ministry of information and communication to increase internet connections through a robust countrywide ICT infrastructure. “The ICT master plan is a platform for partnership with companies like Huawei to work together in order to achieve our goals,” he said. “By 2017, every citizen should be connected for Kenya to be Africa’s ICT hub.”
Huawei has held a number of Broader Way Forums around the world this year, the Kenyan one being the 3rd in Africa after South Africa and Uganda. The Forums seek to promote dialogue on different industry themes, including broadband’s role in economic development, closing the digital divide, network security, LTE technology, and inspiring ICT innovation.