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Africa Regional Internet and Development Dialogue set for Kigali

KIGALI Rwanda (Xinhua) -- The Internet Society will hold the first ever Africa Regional Internet and Development Dialogue from May 8-9 in Kigali, Rwanda, officials said Wednesday.

The event is being organized in partnership with UNESCO and Rwanda’s Ministry of Youth and ICT.

The two-day meeting will bring together experts, including government and inter-governmental organization officials, business and educational leaders from throughout the continent to discuss how Africa can use the Internet to advance education, innovation and job creation, according to a statement released by the Internet Society on Wednesday.

New data released in 2016 by ITU, the UN specialized agency for information and communication technology, shows that 3.9 billion people worldwide remain cut off from the vast resources available on the Internet, despite falling prices for ICT services.

It shows Internet penetration rates at 81 percent in developed countries, compared with 40 percent in developing countries and 15 percent in the least developed countries.

The meeting aims at gathering various organizations working on Internet and development across the region to identify synergies and create opportunities for coordination and collaboration.

Dawit Bekele, Regional Bureau Director for Africa at the Internet Society, said one of the key topics of discussion will be what needs to be done for Africa to benefit from the transformational opportunities of the Internet for the benefit of the African economy and education.

“While there are many challenges, we know it can be done. Countries such as Kenya and Rwanda have created policy environments that enable innovation and they are now seeing the benefits of the Internet economy. Universities throughout the continent are also using e-learning opportunities to increase their reach as well as to give flexibility for their students,” said Bekele.

The meeting will offer an opportunity for key stakeholders to discuss not only the challenges, but also the achievements in building the Internet economy and education in Africa, review the successes and setbacks of various initiatives throughout the region, according to organizers.

Jean Philbert Nsengimana, Rwanda’s Minister of Youth and ICT, noted that Africa is on an unstoppable move toward digital transformation and the room for increasing speed and impact is limitless.

“This can only be achieved if we are able to harness effectively the power of partnerships. We therefore welcome and are pleased to co-host this dialogue which is a great platform for advanced partnerships ahead of the transform Africa Summit that Rwanda will host from May 10 to 12, 2017,” he said.

Indrajit Banerjee, Director of Knowledge Societies Division, Communications and Information Sector at UNESCO, said it was an honorr to participate in this very “meaningful event.”

“UNESCO is committed to working with all stakeholders to harness ICTs in a way that serves the interests of learners and the larger teaching/learning community,” said Banerjee.

The event is part of a global series of Internet development conferences organized with the aim of furthering the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that aim at tackling the world’s main development challenges by 2030.

Regional Internet Development Dialogues were held last year in Asia Pacific, hosted by UNESCAP, and in Latin America and Caribbean in partnership with Inter-America Development Bank and hosted by the Government of Argentina.



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