Ministers, regulators, telecom operator CEOs and other stakeholders in the information and communication technologies (ICTs) sector from across Asia and the Commonwealth will meet in Jaipur, India, from 17-19 January 2011 at the 4th annual Connecting Rural Communities Asia Forum 2011 organised by the London-based Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO).
They will work together to devise faster, effective and more robust strategies for providing ICT connectivity in unserved and underserved rural areas.
The conference will be addressed by African and Asian ICT ministers, including Ignace Gatare, Minister in Charge of ICTs, Office of the President, Rwanda; Professor Geoffrey Lungwangwa, Minister of Communications and Transport, Zambia; Abdourahim Agne, Minister of Telecommunications, ICT and Transport, Senegal; Dr Edmund Katiti, CEO of the NEPAD e-Africa Commission Shankar Aggarwal, Joint Secretary, Department of Information Technology, Government of India; and Sam Pitroda, Advisor to the Indian Prime on Public Information and Innovation. Says CTO’s CEO, Ekwow Spio-Garbrah: “Providing network access to rural communities is one of the recommendations of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), and supports the attainment of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) defined by the UN. Self-sustaining growth in broadband access and other more basic connectivity channels must be achieved in underserved and unconnected regions. However, this can only be accomplished through continuous and fruitful collaborations between a variety of public and private sector partners. This CTO conference will enable Governments, policy makers, ICT regulators, operators, equipment manufacturers, software vendors, call center operatives, financiers, academics and consultants, and infrastructure developing companies to meet to discuss and evaluate the achievements, challenges and opportunities in connecting rural communities.”
The conference will cover topics on key issues concerning the strategies for improving governance and public services delivery through ICTs, the disparities in rural and urban access, a review of recent developments in Asia and globally, and Rural ICT Policy 2.0. Other issues to be discussed include developing national goals and strategies for providing connectivity, applications and content in rural areas,operators’ strategies in improving rural dwellers’ access to services, the development of effective distribution networks for rural areas and its challenges, tried and tested approaches to pricing and profitability, and the business case and strategies for rural broadband access. Other subjects to be debated by participants are the benefits of 3G and broadband wireless availability in the rural communities, the importance of WiMax, m-Content developments, the impact of cultural gaps and capacity-building challenges for both voice and non-voice operations, and the benefits and perceived risks of running rural Business Process Outsourcing (BPOs).
Speakers and panelists include representation from public and private sector organizations, such as the Telecommunications Consultants India Ltd., the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), Telecom Export Promotion Council (TEPC), the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), BSNL, Idea Cellular Ltd., Reliance Communications, the Communications & Manufacturing Association of India (CMAI). Other major global and Asian private sector executives attending are from Tejas Networks, Research in Motion, WiMAX Forum, Microsoft, Alvarion BWA Wireless Solutions Pvt Ltd, the Asia Pacific Telecentre Network (APTN) Secretariat, ICT Agency of Sri Lanka, C-DOT, GTL, VIOM, Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (CDAC), Google India, Luna Ergonomics, elLoka Techsolutions Pvt Ltd, and the Centre for Development Finance. Other delegates will represent Hungama Mobile, the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, Government of Rajasthan, SourcePilani, eGram IT, Source for Change, B2R Technologies Pvt. Ltd, NASSCOM Foundation, the Universal Service Obligation Fund, Department of Telecommunications, Government of India, the Commonwealth Centre for e-Governance, Reuters Market Light, Thomson Reuters, Reliance Foundation, UDAAN, EKO Financial Services, EkGaon, NComputing India, Phoenix Software and the Drishtee Foundation.
The CTO is an inter-governmental organisation which provides technical assistance services to its member countries through research and studies, consultancies and advisory services, capacity building and training workshops, and through knowledge-sharing events. The CTO’s mission is to reduce global poverty through the more efficient utilization of ICTs, and its development agenda reflects the priorities set in the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). www.cto.int
January 14 2011.