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IT Experts, Others discuss the Future of Internet in Liberia

IT Experts, Others discuss the Future of Internet in Liberia

A one-day summit geared towards enhancing the awareness of the usage of the internet to help Liberians when it comes to health services, and more opportunities for education, jobs, and entrepreneurship in the country has ended.

The summit, which took place recently at a resort in Monrovia, brought together professionals from the IT sector, academia, innovators, and the business community, as well as civil society organizations. 
The day-long summit, organized under the auspices of Monrovia Technology in collaboration with the West Africa ICT Action Network with support from Meta, formally Facebook, took place on the theme: "Future of the Internet in Liberia."
Peterking Quaye, Executive Director of West Africa ICT Action Network, who provided an overview of the summit, said the internet has been revolutionized in providing unprecedented opportunities for people around the world to connect and express themselves and continues to transform the global economy.
He noted that the internet is an engine of economic opportunity for billions of people. Yet the internet is also creating serious policy challenges.
Quaye observed that private and public investment in digital solutions is bringing critical services by creating jobs and strengthening small and medium-sized businesses, which is enabling trade and services to build resilience to the shock. 
"We must congratulate the telecom operators and the platform provided for coming to this particular event to also share their views. Let us remember that 3.6 billion people around the world are still not connected to the internet, mostly those living in rural areas and remote communities, which is why more reason to keep finding ways to connect everyone and everywhere, "he said.
Quaye said that internet technology is no longer in its infancy—sporting dial-up connectivity has given way to broadband, and the days of relying on wire connections are long gone, with many devices now able to connect to the web via a wireless hub.
He said, "I believe that by participating in this event we are in the right place at the right time. Let us accelerate the exchange of ideas and scale up with good practices. I’m especially pleased that the discussion and ideas here will inform officials of government and policymakers to do more for Liberia.”
Quaye also expressed confidence that the participants will find new ideas, and fresh energy, and develop partnerships to sustain efforts in supporting the future of the internet in Liberia through this event.
In a special remark, the Liberia Telecommunications Authority (LTA), Edwina Zackpah, Commissioner, acknowledged the West Africa ICT Action Network and Meta for holding such a dialogue about issues affecting access, governance, and the use of the internet in the country. 
She hopes that the forum will inform them as government officials to make some public policy, drive actions and create public awareness about how the internet can be leveraged to transform the lives of Liberians and grow our economy, thereby reshaping the future of our country.
Zackpah said the internet has been transformative for Liberia, as it has been for the rest of the global community since its advent about 15 years ago.
According to her, the internet is no longer trending phenomenal but has become a critical tool giving access to the world's knowledge. It also makes available countless applications in finance, health and education, government services and media, as well as businesses.
She said in an economically challenged society such as Liberia, the future should see the increased leverage of the power of the internet to break the illiteracy gap by increasing access to student online educational resources, especially where there are limited funds to start our library and provide books for our online learners.
"We see a future where more Liberians can avoid the misery of unemployment and take an entrepreneur idea online," Zackpah added.
She said the future of the internet in Liberia should be where healthcare workers in remote areas of the country or county can access the expert medical mentorship and resources needed to save lives.
“This is our vision of the promise of the internet to drive the development of Liberia's digital economy to achieve an improved standard of living for our people. This aspiration view of Liberia's digital future will not happen just because we wish it to, but there is much work that must be done to bring it to pass,” she said.
In his remarks, Posts and Telecommunication Minister, Cllr. Cooper Kruah, Snr., lauded the organizers for the valuable time they put into organizing such an important event, especially with the theme: "Future of the Internet in Liberia."
He said over the years, Liberia has been engaged with international partners, civil society organizations, and the private sector in establishing a framework that will enhance inclusiveness in information sharing to engender social and economic empowerment.
According to him, the internet is changing and redefining every aspect of the lives of people, organizations, and countries, of which Liberia is no exception. It provides an unprecedented opportunity for people to freely communicate with ease and enables social-economic development.

Kruah said, "We would like to assure your organization that our ministry takes seriously the efforts being made to increase the internet penetration in our country."
He said in consideration of the theme, the future of the internet in Liberia, he was proud to say that Liberia, as a signatory to the UN Decoration on Human Rights, sees the free use of the internet as a fundamental right for every Liberian and every person for that matter.

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