This session, built in collaboration with ITU, was chaired and moderated by Mr. Jean-Pierre Chamoux, Professor Emeritus at the University of Paris Descartes, France. He introduced it by talking about ITU – the organization which has always been strongly supporting the development of telecoms, helping countries that lack knowledge in this domain, effectively establish and develop telecoms, and trying to address the development challenges on a global level related to broadband.

The session was divided in three main parts:

  1. Need for infrastructure and new services (Where does the demand come from?);
  2. Analysis of policies and/or existing policies;
  3. Insights on typical application related to broadband.

The first presenter during this session, Mr. René Dönni Kuoni, the Director and Co-leader of the Telecom Services Division at the Swiss Federal Office for Communications (OFCOM Switzerland), focused mainly on Switzerland. He argued that the economy would become more innovative and internationally competitive through the use of ICT. Switzerland has many regulations on telecoms, and advocates that all the norms become universal so that this could lead to a relative demand.

In addition, Mr. Dönni Kuoni added that it is in the micro level where the leaders are. However, for the wireless, the Swiss don’t perform that well, and need to become more efficient. To illustrate his point, he showed a map with all the different Swiss networks. He made a remark in parenthesis regarding the Alpine region where he would like to see more megabits. The solution would be to extend the already existing cables in order to have even more megabits.

Mr. Mario Maniewicz, Chief of the Infrastructure, Enabling Environment and E-Applications Department at ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau (BDT), started his presentation by giving us some general information like the fact that there are almost 7 billion mobile subscriptions worldwide. There has been a huge expansion in developing countries as there have been many more new subscriptions over the last past years. Moreover, the mobile broadband access is in increase – a special highlight is the increase of mobile penetration in Africa. According to Mr. Maniewicz, in order to improve telecommunication, we should focus mainly on “spectrum” (radio telecommunication and radar), “standardization” and “development” (helping developing country). In conclusion he said that there were 7 billion people connected to each other, but what we wanted was to connect machine to machine.

The next presenter, Mr. Jean François Bureau, used to be NATO Assistant Secretary General in charge of public diplomacy. He was a General Controller at France’s Ministry of Defense from July 2010 to October 2011 when he joined Eutelsat as a Director responsible for Institutional and International Affairs. Mr. Bureau defined himself as a client of the space industry, and said that everything should work over satellite. Regarding the value chain of the business, he stressed the following four main aspects:

  • Satellite manufacturing;
  • Terrestrial terminal selling;
  • Satellite operators activities; and
  • Service/application selling.

The activities are mainly on the side of the developed countries – that’s where the need is, and therefore, that’s where competition is increasing.

Looking back to the past, Mr. Bureau said that France, i.e. Eutelsat in particular, had delivered 2 megabit internet connection whereas today they were able to provide 20 megabit connection which is a huge and really important increase compared to the others. The power of satellite will increase in the future – a common expectation is that it will deliver more than 50 megabits which would be a high speed Internet.

The intrinsic advantages of the satellite are:

  • Fixed cost regardless of the distance;
  • Previews (earthquake seen by satellite);
  • Ability of satellite operators to finance the initial investment in new capacities from their own resources, and immediately provide service once the satellite is operational.

In conclusion, satellites are the solution to terrestrial problems. The main objective of putting satellite everywhere is giving people access to Internet wherever they are (instead of going to cities to access the Internet).

The second part of the conference was about Policy Making and Policy Analysis in the domain of Broadband.

The first presenter in this segment of the session, Mr. Jules Degila, a member of GIDE Advisory Council, is specialized in the optimization of telecommunication networks and systems architecture, deployment and operations. Coming from Benin, he began his speech with a little joke: “What are the two reasons why we haven’t heard about Benin? Firstly, Benin is not famous for playing soccer there, and secondly, it is a peaceful country”.

Even though Benin is a stable country and economy, there is a lack of infrastructure and with that a very limited, if any spread in broadband there. According to Mr. Degila, Benin should focus the effort on addressing these issues in the next year. Benin has already undertaken many economic reforms. The government is strongly focused on its priority to become more digitized (mainly with the use of telecommunications) in order to be able to open the country’s capital/ unleash the country’s potential. It is also committed to defining the policy in such a way to attract technology partners and investors because it broadband is an interesting market. In fact, with the appropriate technology, they can make money. Benin is an excellent transit point because it is used as a test base for people who want to invest in Nigeria.

Ms. Fadhilah Mathar, Head of Strategic Planning and Partnership Division of ICT R&D and Human Resources Development with the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology in the Republic of Indonesia, as well as a lecturer at the Islamic State University of Syarif Hidayatullah Jakarta, is actively involved in strategic formulation of ICT policy related research in Indonesia – the home of biodiversity. The Indonesian Prime Minister ensures that there is no blank spot in Indonesia, and yet there are visible obstacles such as: unequal diffusion of information access, shortage of ICT infrastructure allowing broadband access, and unfavorably high price for broadband. The main issues related to Indonesia’s broadband are the following points:

  1. Supply/ infrastructure aspects – availability; accessibility, affordability.
  2. Demand/ utilization and adoption – awareness and ability; e-literacy; aggregating demand;
  3. Financial aspects;
  4. Regulation and institutional aspects – being the most important of all.

The third and last part of this session started with Mr. Ali Kone who is currently the Chief Operating Officer and co-founder of Coders4Africa. Originally from Mali but born in USA, Mr. Kone has over 13 combined years of experience in application development, software architecture, agile methodology, and project management. Agreeing with Ms. Mathar’s standpoint, he said that his organization Coders4Africa, which is based mostly in Dakar, Senegal but has offices in Ghana, Ethiopia and other African countries as well, had a collaborative plan, and that they provided trainings and local applications. This company was created from an association and they develop applications depending on the needs. As an example, he pointed out a launched application for local farmers, containing a network related to cows, which enables monitoring of cows’ pregnancy, and tracking the cows. He finished his speech saying that having big data would be important for them as being part of the Cloud.

Ms. Samia Melhem is the chair of the Digital Development Community of Practice, and leads ICT’s practice Knowledge and Learning program focusing on internal and client capacity building through knowledge sharing on ICT4Ds. She argued that developing broadband in poor countries would be less affordable for them. To illustrate this she highlighted the fact that we normally spend 5% of our annual income on Internet which represents approximately 200 € per month. She asked why they would invest in public sector. To ensure the connection of regions, they substitute a portion of the investment in Eastern Africa, Western Africa, and Central Africa. In addition, they have learned that in order to grow they need to invest in Broadband. The most important sectors that should be developed are education and agriculture which as two distinct sectors do not share same needs, and should be understood/ handled differently.

In her presentation Ms. Madeleine Scherb, president and founder of Health and Environment Program (HEP), a non-governmental organization based in Cameroon with an office in Geneva, touched upon the following key aspects of Cameroon’s economy and development:

  • Agriculture, industry, mining, and services are the four main sectors in Cameroon.
  • Cameroon is ranked 28th on a global level according to Internet usage.
  • However, there is a staggering lack of information and medicines.

She also provided a lot of other information about her country but unfortunately was running out of time, and couldn’t further elaborate on those.

To conclude this session, Mr. Chamoux asked the speakers to summarize their views on this matter in one minute, and finished by saying: “Broadband for Development at the Global Forum is an opportunity to talk to people, and make them aware”.