3.9 billion people lack access to ICT

By Austine Omoregbe

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Telecom World 2016 conference opened with an urgent call on governments as well as local and global ICT players to work together and connect the 3.9 billion people who lack ICT access in the world today.

ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao, who made the call at the grand opening ceremony, observed that whereas it was refreshing to note that 95 percent of the world today has mobile connections, it is sad to note 3.9 billion people were yet to be connected.

He said this year’s ITU Telecom World, taking place in Busan, South Korea under the theme Smart Digital Transformation, Global Opportunities”, was therefore dedicated, among other things, to forging business to business as well as business to government partnerships as part of the drive to connect the unconnected.

Houlin Zhao noted that special attention would also be paid to small and medium scale enterprises (SMEs) in the ICT industry because they are doing a lot to connected the unserved and underserved and ITU is seeking mainstream them to drive that agenda strongly.

Indeed, in Ghana, government, through the National Communications Authority (NCA), recently announced a novelty authorization for telcos to use their 900MHz 2G spectrum to deploy Universal Mobile Telecommunication Systems (UMTS) and provide affordable 3G service in the unserved and underserved areas.

Government is giving this authorization for free to the telcos, and the telcos themselves have said that deploying UMTS on 900MHz is much cheaper than deploying same on the 2100MHz originally licensed to them for 3G.