Kathy Gibson is at ITU Telecom World in Durban – The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) today kicked off ITU Telecom World, hosted by South Africa in Durban.

“Everyone deserves the benefits of a modern connected life,” says Rob Shuter, group president and CEO of MTN.

“I’ve seen how connectivity has changed the lives of people in all our markets,” he adds.

However, despite significant mobile growth, almost 2-billion of the 5-billion subscribers are unable to enjoy the benefits of the Internet

This argues for the pressing need to bridge the digital divide, he says. “This is a hard goal and we must all work together for connectivity,” Shuter adds.

Houlin Zhao, secretary-general of the International Telecommunication Union, says Africa is on the cusp of a new digital era.

“I wish to pay my respect to Nelson Mandela, a global icon, a son of the African soil and a strong supporter of the ITU,” he says.

“Mr Mandela stressed the need to bridge the divide between the information rich and information poor countries,” Zhao says. “He said ICT is the single most powerful tool we have for human progress.”