The 1st Wireless Broadband World Africa 2009 Conference opened yesterday in Cape Town Convention Centre with over 60 delegates in attendance.

By all measures, Wireless Broadband World Africa 2009 is proving to be a great success.

The conference has attracted delegates across the globe, which gives a fair representation of the industry players. Speaking to Biz-News, Debbie Tagg, Managing Director for Terrapinn, the event organizers, said, "We are happy with market response despite the economic challenges companies are facing world wide".

The conference opened with presentations focusing on the economic benefits of developed broadband system across the world with a special focus on Africa.

Delegates and speakers agreed that access to affordable high-speed Internet and mobile phone service are key to economic growth and job creation in developing countries, Africa in particular.

The conference speakers agreed that for every 10 percentage-point increase in high-speed Internet connections there is an increase in economic growth of 1.3 percentage points.

Internet users in developing countries increased tenfold from 2000 to 2007, and there are now over four billion mobile phone subscribers in developing countries.

Most of the participants lamented the unfavourable regulatory environment that hampers the use of technologies. These technologies offer tremendous opportunities. Governments can work with the private sector to accelerate rollout of broadband networks, and to extend access to low-income consumers.

So far, mobile platform has been identified as the single most powerful way to reach and deliver public and private services to hundreds of millions of people in remote and rural areas across the developing world.

Commenting on the deliberations, George Finger, ICT Specialist at Development Bank of Southern Africa said that broadband provides the basis for local information technology (IT) services industries, which create youth employment, increase productivity, and exports, and promote social inclusion.

"Access to broadband completes the information foundation for a modern economy and should be a priority in national development plans", said George.

"Governments can play a key role in expanding broadband access by policies and incentives that encourage competition and private investment", he concluded.

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