Luxury no more; access to internet a citizen’s basic right: Mauritius ICT Minister
A one-day workshop on the theme ‘Broadband for Sustainable Development’ was held last Thursday May 15, 2014, in Mauritius in anticipation of the World Telecommunication and Information Society Day (WTISD). (Image: ITU)
Broadband is no longer a luxury that only advanced economies can afford, according to Mauritius ICT Minister Tassarajen Pillay Chedumbrum.
“It has become the underpinning of a more dynamic, sustainable and equitable globalised economy and here in Mauritius, the government and the ICT Ministry have strived to make access to internet a citizen’s basic right,” he observed.
He made this statement at his opening address during a one-day workshop on the theme ‘Broadband for Sustainable Development’ held last Thursday May 15, 2014, in anticipation of the World Telecommunication and Information Society Day (WTISD).
The event, organized by the National Computer Board at La Cannelle, Domaine les Pailles, aimed to create awareness on broadband technologies and their impact on socio-economic development.
The workshop also served as a platform to cover different topics such as Broadband for a low carbon economy; Broadband for E-Govt; Broadband infrastructure & emerging technologies; Broadband for community empowerment; Broadband for lifelong learning for sustainable development; and, Rethinking the Education system through Broadband.
Recent figures show that there are around 681,000 internet subscriptions in Mauritius of which more than 75% are broadband connections and the broadband penetration rate has been steadily increasing over the years to reach 41% in 2013.
The Minister noted that accessibility to the internet is one thing but affordability of broadband is a key challenge to ensure that everyone has equal access to the opportunities and benefits of broadband connectivity.
Tassarajen Pillay Chedumbrum further added that in this new era of communication, broadband is the innovation infrastructure enabling collaboration and boosting productivity; however, much still remains to be done.
“Promoting digital literacy and broadband adoption will help in job creation and reap cost savings in education, health care, e-government and much more,” he added.
The purpose of the WTISD, celebrated across the world on May 17, is to help raise awareness of the possibilities that using the Internet and other information and communication technologies (ICT) can bring to societies and economies, as well as find ways to bridge the digital divide.
The chosen day to celebrate WTISD, May 17, marks the anniversary of the signing of the first International Telegraph Convention and the creation of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).
Founded in Paris on 17 May 1865 as the International Telegraph Union, the ITU took its present name in 1932, and in 1947 became a specialized agency of the United Nations. Since then, the ITU has come a long way and will celebrate its 150th anniversary next year.
Incidentally, this year marked a focus on Africa as the ITU presented the World Telecommunication and Information Society Award to Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame. He was honoured in recognition of his leadership and dedication towards promoting ICTs and broadband connectivity as a means of achieving sustainable development.
Besides Kagame, Park Geun-hye, President of the Republic of Korea and Carlos Slim, Chairman, Grupo Carso and President of the Carlos Slim Foundation were other recipients of the award.
The theme for this year, ‘Broadband for Sustainable Development’ brings attention to the catalytic role of ICTs in securing smart solutions to achieve economic growth, social inclusion and environmental balance – the three pillars of sustainable development in the post-2015 era.