Shola Taylor, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO), charts the progress of Commonwealth member states in information-based cooperation and economic development, and emphasises three specific areas of performance that deserve attention.
“I've chosen Joe Biden to be my running mate”, announced Barack Obama by SMS to his supporters in 2008 when he ran for president of the United States of America for the first time, consecrating text messaging as a powerful, instant and readily accessible means of mass communication that could rival the press, radio and television networks.
Although they became generation-defining icons, many inventions such as the phonograph, plastic and more recent ones such as the short message service (SMS) were discovered by chance or seen initially as of little application. Their impact was simply unexpected. Much older inventions discovered in the same way, such as paper, have not marked only generations, they have defined entire civilisations.
Like paper, voice telephony, SMS, e-mails and the internet have also brought unexpected but dramatic changes to our lives, though much more quickly. Our habits are changing rapidly; many, especially among younger generations, now live mostly a cyberlife, learning, socialising, shopping or voting predominantly online. Businesses operating in virtual environments are also on the increase. And as with paper once, governments have today the opportunity to use these new information and communication technologies (ICT) to manage and deliver more effectively public services and engage us as true e-citizens…
*Statistics within article correct at original publication date of CHOGM 2015 Report.
Secretary-General of the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO)