Shola Taylor, newly appointed secretary-general of the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO), has said he would encourage accelerated expansion of broadband connectivity into rural areas as part of his agenda when he officially takes over at the CTO later in September this year.
The CTO is an international treaty organisation headquartered in London and largely composed of former British colonies.
Taylor who spoke to IT Edge News at the just ended CTO Forum in Abuja, Nigeria, said he would use the advocacy channels of the CTO to encourage countries in Africa to put the right policy frameworks in place to encourage broadband investment particularly in rural areas.
“We need to encourage heads of governments, regulators and even legislators to initiate the right policies that will encourage operators to enter those rural areas that have little attractions in terms of profit and remain cut off from most national broadband rollouts,” said Taylor.
Taylor is currently the chief executive officer of Kemilinks International, a global ICT consultancy firm based in Lagos. A telecommunications engineer by training, he brings to the CTO over 35 years of global experience in ICTs with government and the private sector. Previous positions held include regional director for Africa at Inmarsat (1994 – 1999), space technology coordinator for developing countries at the International Telecommunication Union (ITU, 1993 – 1994) and project director, also at the ITU (1987 – 1993).
“The rural-urban drift remains a major challenge in most African countries including Nigeria. Broadband offers a lot of opportunities to rural areas. In some communities, the middlemen have been effectively cut off and farmers can sell their products directly for the right prices based on information accessible online. Other occupations need not go to cities to find value. They can remain right there in the rural areas and still get adequate compensations once there is broadband connectivity,” said Taylor who has been twice elected as a member of the ITU’s Radio Regulations Board (vice-chair in 2004, and chair in 2005).