|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Secretary-General, in Remarks to Broadband Commission for Digital
Development, Stresses Need to Make Service More Affordable
Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks to the Broadband Commission for Digital Development, in New York, yesterday, 19 September:
It is a pleasure to be here, and to receive the conclusions of your report.
The expansion of broadband is a critical factor in development, and in meeting the Millennium Development Goals. Broadband has extraordinary potential for human progress.
Its value in delivering health services and in education is obvious. But broadband also offers many other ways to advance development and generate economic activity. For example, online financial services could give hundreds of millions of people greater access to credit, and control over their money.
Broadband networks can help us to manage climate change, natural disasters and other global crises. In the coming years, robust broadband networks will be as vital to economic growth as roads, bridges and electricity.
But two things must change if we are to make the best use of broadband for all the world’s people. First, Governments need to raise broadband to the top of the development agenda and speed up its rollout. Second, broadband needs to become much more affordable.
In developed countries, broadband subscriptions cost up to 3 per cent of average monthly income. But in the least developed countries, a monthly broadband subscription consumes more than an average person’s entire monthly income.
This means that the people who can least afford access to broadband are being asked, proportionately, to pay the most. We must find ways around this injustice, particularly because research shows that broadband services can quickly pay for themselves. Investing in information and communication technologies has a direct positive effect on gross domestic product growth.
Higher-end technologies — including broadband — have the most positive effects of all. Added to this are the benefits from increased content created by users. This content can enrich cultures at a local level and ensure that culture is represented at a global level. It can help to strengthen social cohesion.
And it can promote linguistic and cultural diversity. Indeed, our concept of the information society must go far beyond connectivity. It must embrace freedom of expression, education, information literacy and multilingualism.
This report has benefited from the diverse expertise of the Broadband Commission, distinguished Heads of State and representatives from the public sector, leading business people and successful entrepreneurs. And it has come to fruition under the guidance of the International Telecommunication Union and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
I thank you all for your cooperation and your commitment. Thank you, too, for setting forth a clear common vision: that all the world’s people should enjoy the vast benefits of broadband. Together you are helping to create a once-in-a-generation opportunity to drive social and economic progress.
I personally, and the United Nations as a whole, stand with you in our commitment to reaching this important goal and furthering the United Nations aims of peace, security and development for all.
* *** *For information media • not an official record