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Global ICT community discuss broadband for enhancing Pacific lives

Pacific Islands ICT ministers on Tuesday, convened in Samoa to discuss the future development of broadband in the region.

The ministers joined members of the Samoan diplomatic corps, other Samoan cabinet ministers, the chief judge of Samoa, regional and international policymakers, regulators, industry leaders and opinion formers at the Commonwealth Broadband Pacific Forum 2017, the latest in a series of events on broadband organised by the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO). The three-day event will continue until 27 July 2017.

Broadband is a key enabling technology with the ability to provide economic, health and social benefits while also promoting citizen participation in government. The Commonwealth Broadband Pacific Forum will examine how to increase broadband access in the Pacific, the challenges to expanding broadband and possible solutions, the role of broadband in areas such as disaster management and Internet governance and the role of policymakers and regulators in enabling broadband expansion.

In his opening remarks, Shola Taylor, secretary-general of the CTO said “The CTO is committed to promoting affordable universal and high-quality broadband connectivity”.

“This event will develop the themes discussed at past broadband forums and also take a regional perspective on the issue.

ICTs, and broadband in particular, are widely recognised as a crucial catalyst for achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Broadband is an enabler of innovative solutions in e-government, e-business, e-education and e-health, and in helping to make information and services readily available to millions of people. However, many in the Pacific Islands are still unable to access these benefits.

Before now, Pacific Islands face specific challenges in connecting their far-flung communities, but are making progress with the expansion of both submarine cable and satellite communications. The supply-side improvements are taking place alongside demand-side progress, including the development of broadband strategies that actively promote the integration of broadband use in all facets of Pacific life.

Honourable Afamasaga Rico Tupa’i, Minister of Communication and Information Technology, Samoa, and host of the Commonwealth Broadband Pacific Forum 2017 said “Here in Samoa, we are seeing increased government efficiency due to enhanced connectivity”.

He noted further that “We welcome the opportunity to host this event and contribute to strategies to develop broadband not just in Samoa, but throughout the Pacific region.”

The Commonwealth Broadband Pacific Forum 2017 was officially opened by Her Excellency, Fiame Naomi Mata’afa, Acting Prime Minster, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, Samoa

Business Hilights recalls that the CTO is the oldest and largest Commonwealth intergovernmental organisation in the field of information and communication technologies. With a diverse membership spanning developed and least developed countries, small island developing states, and more recently also the private sector and civil society, the CTO aims to become a trusted partner for sustainable development for all through ICTs.