* The government has embarked on a national project to help rural communities gain access to telecommunication facilities and services, Deputy President Jacob Zuma said on Saturday.

Speaking at a function to mark World Telecommunications Day in Phokeng, near Rustenburg, he said the project would include the setting up of multi-purpose centres.

"This initiative was formed in partnership with business and civil society and it seeks to help people living in remote areas receive, among other things, government information and services through technology."

Zuma said the government had also launched another project, called Khanya, in an effort to bridge the digital divide. The project comprises the provision of desktop computers, networks, the Internet and e-mail facilities to schools. "We hope teachers, learners and parents will maximise the benefits of this initiative for the broader communities. These are vital ways of addressing some of the social and economic challenges we face everyday," he said.

* Albert Kan-Dapaah, Minister of Communications and Technology, has said Ghana needs about 800 million dollars to improve telecommunication infrastructure to support the development of the ICT industry. He said, "what is even more frightening is that there must be an additional regular annual investment to ensure that the equipment does not become outdated and obsolete".

The Minister was speaking at the opening of a Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisations (CTO) Competition Policy Workshop aimed. He said it was inconceivable for the government alone to find investment capital for the development and called for private sector support and investment in the industry. He said, "investment in the telecomm sector had been declining thus delaying infrastructure expansions and slowing the deployment of value added advanced communication and technological services."

* Nkenke Kekana, chairman of Parliament’s Communications Portfolio Committee, will replace Telkom’s group executive for regulatory and public policy, Victor Moche, following his resignation. Moche is to head up Denel.

Kekana has been involved in the information and communication sector for the past 20 years and has been a member of parliament since 1994, participating in the formulation of much of the major telecommunications and broadcasting legislation.

In his capacity as Chairman of the Communications Portfolio Committee he has hosted many public hearings on communications issues, such as the role of telecommunications in Africa, the quality of cellular services in South Africa and the transformation of the advertising industry.

* Paul Nomba of the World Bank speaking at a West African Regulators event in Burkina Faso said that:"The central question is not to put in place the right to interconnect but to actually ensure that this right is implemented."

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