In developing nations an increase in internet connectivity and access has been seen to impact greatly on their economic growth than you find in developed nations. In affirmation to this, a Worldbank report says that for developing countries, a 10% increase in Broadband penetration can actually drive an economic growth of 1.38%.
Around the world, a lot of initiatives are going on to increase broadband access and connectivity as broadband becomes a major driver of Innovations. We find the private sector, the government of nations and international organizations like the Worldbank, International Telecommunications Union (ITU) the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organizations (CTO) all joining forces to make sure broadband becomes ubiquitous. This has come with it several opportunities and challenges which require a defined and well articulated policies and strategies to drive investment in broadband.
The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) on her part is ensuring that the policy thrust on broadband by government of these nations is one that will help maximize the benefits of broadband to national development, knowing that delivering universal and affordable broadband access can only be fully achieved through a balance of technology and policy approaches appropriate to specific situations. One of the goals of ITU is to achieve digital inclusion for all, it has advised these government that strategies to increase broadband adoption and use must take into account the full range of government actions or policies and their impact on the cost to consumers of services, devices and relevant apps. Optimizing approach to spectrum policy, allocation and management becomes an important aspect of governments overall broadband policy portfolio.
In Africa and especially Nigeria, Mobile broadband is growing at a fast rate. The growth rate in global mobile data traffic is projected to reach 60% annually from 2011-2017 which will result in a 15 fold increase in traffic by 2017(ITU report).It becomes imperative for us to prepare for the Mobile broadband opportunities. Although the private sector drives the investment in Mobile broadband in Nigeria as seen in many other nations, government and regulatory authorities like the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) have the duty to create a supportive environment to encourage investments. Am optimistic that the Nigerian broadband plan and strategies to increase access and connectivity to the under-served and the rural areas will make great impact in coming years so that the several submarine cables on the shores of the country will be fully utilized.
The World Bank report titled Information and Communications for Development: Maximizing Mobile has recommended the following at the policy level: ensuring sufficient availability of quality spectrum to deploy cost effective mobile broadband networks, eliminating technological and service restrictions on spectrum, focusing on expansion of network coverage rather than on spectrum proceeds, transparency in traffic management and safe guarding competition, fostering the development of national backbone broadband networks and fostering infrastructure and spectrum sharing. On the demand side, ensuring the availability and affordability of broadband-enabled devices, enabling increasing affordability of broadband services and then enabling the development of broadband applications and content.
It is on this background that the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organization (CTO) Forum 2013 organized by the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Communication Technology and Nigerian Communications Commission on behalf of the Federal Government of Nigeria, with the theme: Innovation through Broadband becomes very relevant at this time.
The CTO Forum 2013 which holds in Abuja- Nigeria between October 7-11 will bring together Regulators, Governments, Operators, Vendors, Implementing Agencies and Universal Service Fund Administrators, the event will also highlight global solutions to broadband infrastructure, revenue management and security challenges whilst demonstrating cutting edge innovations that have resulted from broadband implementations. From cloud computing to social media and youth engagement to e-governance the CTO Forum will offer insights into the future of ICT development across the Commonwealth and beyond.