“ICT is a key tool for sustainable development.

ICT development also have challenges that need to be addressed to fully realize its benefits”

This is according to Tongatapu 3 MP Hon Siaosi Sovaleni who is attending, as a speaker, at the sub-regional meeting on the implementation of the Asia-Pacific Information Superhighway (AP-IS) Nadi, 19-23 November 2018.

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The conference was opened by the ITU Regional Director, Mr Ioane Koroivuki and Head of Pacific ESCAP Office, Mr Iosefa Maiava, and Mr Fred Christopher, Manager PITA.

Some of the focus areas include briefing on the Asia-Pacific Information Superhighway (AP-IS) initiative, looking at opportunities and challenges on promoting cross-border broadband connectivity in Pacific Island countries including Tonga.

It further look at measures to enhance resilience of ICT infrastructure from natural disasters.

“It was important to share real experience whereby ICT infrastructure withstood natural disasters such as the case of Tonga with Tropical Cyclone Gita. Hopefully sharing these valuable experiences and lessons learnt will help countries build more resilient ICT infrastructure, ’’ added Hon Sovaleni.

In a session examining measures to ensure having affordable broadband for all, it was pointed out that there is a need for a multi-pronged approach whereby we need to look at legislation, domestic connectivity, partnership and an integrated approach together with other key sectors such as education, health and agriculture.

The meeting also provide feedback on the AP-IS and identify priority areas for the Pacific.

ESCAP organizer of the Nadi gathering Dr. Siope ‘Ofa said "while significant improvements on access to broadband connectivity has been witnessed in most Pacific Island countries, the digital divide continues to be a major challenge.

According to ITU data, eighteen countries in Asia and the Pacific have less than two percent of population having access to fixed-broadband services. Eight are Pacific Island countries Tonga included. Bridging the digital divide is critical to facilitating delivery of e-government services, e-commerce and future emerging technologies.

In response, the Asia-Pacific Information Superhighway (AP-IS) initiative is a regional intergovernmental platform supported by ESCAP and other regional and international organisations towards promoting broadband infrastructure development in Asia and the Pacific,” said Siope ‘Ofa.

The conference also recognised the need for better coordination, partnership, capacity building, and leadership to ensure broadband is affordable and reaches unserved areas.

Fast internet should not be just for people in central business district but rather to all and to improve the livelihood of all.

The Nadi conference was co-organized by International Telecommunication Union (ITU), UN-ESCAP, and Pacific Islands Telecommunication Association (PITA).

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