Dr. Ekwow Spio-Garbrah, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organization (CTO) became the idol of many in Nigeria when he demonstrated a rare combination of oratory and analytical skill at a conference in the West African country recently.
The CTO boss, an aspirant for the presidential ticket of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) revealed at the conference, which was held in the Nigerian capital of Abuja, that a key requirement for the acceleration of development in many developing nations was the quicker development and incorporation of Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) in the development agenda of nations, especially in the case of rural communities.
Dr. Spio-Garbrah was, however, of the view that, "merely extending ICT services to rural people without the relevant contents that would contribute knowledge and enrich their lives will not significantly bridge the digital divide which is required for accelerated development."
The presidential aspirant, Communications czar himself, was of the view that rural dwellers would benefit most if and when ICTs provided for them contained contents that deal with issues affecting their access to health care, agricultural services and markets, literacy and education, commerce and finance, as well as government services.
He noted that 85% of the world's poor live in villages, of which 60% have never used a telephone, while some 80% have never used the Internet.
Dr. Spio-Garbrah noted that for ICTs to have the necessary effect in bridging the digital and knowledge divide, and to benefit rural communities, those communities must co-invest, co-own, and co-manage ICT infrastructure, its operations, and services alongside central and local governments, private operators, micro-finance institutions and agro-based co-operatives.
The conference, which was on "Connecting Rural Communities", was organized by the Government of Nigeria's Ministry of Communications and the Nigerian Communications Commission.
Also speaking at the opening ceremony was Nigeria's Minister of Communications Hon. Obafemi Anibaba.
In attendance were a number of Ghanaian officials, including former Minister of Transport and Communications Hon. Edward Salia and a Parliamentary delegation led by Hon. Opare Ansah Deputy Chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Communications.
Other speakers at the conference were from South Africa, the African Development Bank, Ghana Information Network for Knowledge, and the Prometheus Group from the United States.
Meanwhile, Dr. Spio-Garbrah, has in a press release, congratulated all Muslims for successfully going through the month-long Ramadan fast.
The release observed that the month of Ramadan and the festival of Eid-ul-Fitr were timely reminders to people of all faiths of the importance of peace, love and compassion for others, as well as unity and charity.
"I hope that after a month of meditation andsoul-searching,of sacrifice, prayer, and repentance you celebrate with the hope that your efforts, with the grace of the Almighty Allah, will result in a renewal of spirit, and renovation of life," Spio said.
"I therefore humbly request that you persist in your prayers so that, the NDC delegates to Congress in December of this year, elect the best candidate, in an atmosphere of peace and unity, as Flagbearer, to lead the NDC into victory in 2008," the release noted.