RWANDA, Kigali: THE Minister for Information, Communication and Information Technology, Nape Nnauye has emphasised the need to unite efforts to ensure universal connectivity for all citizens, especially those residing in rural areas.
Mr Nape said this when addressing the Global System for Mobile Communications Association (GSMA) and African Telecommunication Union (ATU) Policy Leaders Forum on Bridging the Digital Divide held in Kigali, Rwanda recently.
The forum brought together policymakers, regulatory bodies, industry leaders, academicians, researchers and development partners to discuss strategies for leveraging Universal Communication Service Funds, to enhance rural connectivity in Sub-Saharan Africa.
In his address, Nape expressed his profound honour to participate in the forum and acknowledged the importance of the gathering. He emphasised the need to unite efforts to ensure universal connectivity for all citizens, especially those residing in rural areas.
The event’s organisers, GSMA and the African Telecommunication Union (ATU) Secretariat, received praise from Mr Nape for their remarkable efforts in coordinating this timely discussion on rural connectivity. The minister highlighted the urgency of addressing the digital divide and expressed gratitude to all parties involved in organising the event.
Mr Nape underscored the collaborative efforts of governments and private sector partners in their quest to enhance rural connectivity. He stressed the crucial role played by Universal Communications Service Access Funds in facilitating access to communication services in areas where market forces alone are insufficient.
“These funds enable the development of communication infrastructure, provide education and training on technology usage and support innovative communication projects,” explained Minister Nape.
To achieve the goal of strengthening rural connectivity, the minister emphasised the necessity of robust strategies and effective implementation plans.
He emphasised the importance of close collaboration among stakeholders, including governments, private sector entities, regulatory bodies and development partners. He said, together, they must identify challenges and devise appropriate solutions.
“I stand before you today, to highlight the remarkable journey and accomplishments of the Universal Communications Service Access Fund (UCSAF) of Tanzania. Our concerted efforts have led to transformative changes in rural connectivity and it is imperative to recognise the pivotal role played by our tailored strategies in this success story of Tanzania,” said the minister.
Minister Nape also stressed the significance of building local capacity. He called for investments in education and training to empower local professionals to contribute to the construction and operation of communication infrastructure. Furthermore, he encouraged the promotion of local innovation to generate technology solutions tailored to rural environments.
The minister expressed confidence that the outcomes of the forum would greatly contribute to raising awareness and exchanging experiences on leveraging Universal Communication Service Funds effectively.
He emphasised the importance of learning from successful countries and institutions in achieving rural connectivity, as their lessons and expertise could drive positive change in the region.
Mr Nape reiterated the significance of the work remaining at hand. “Through collaboration and concerted efforts, the digital divide can be bridged and rural connectivity in Africa can be greatly enhanced,” he added.
He called upon all stakeholders to work together diligently to ensure that every African citizen becomes part of the digital community.
The forum was a good opportunity for participants who contributed experiences from their countries and held discussions and showcased insights from Sub-Saharan countries that will shape the future of rural connectivity in Sub-Saharan Africa.