Nigeria Says Limited Internet Access Hampering Developing Countries’ UN Engagement


Nigeria has expressed concern at the United Nations saying developing countries, hampered by limited access to robust internet infrastructures, are being excluded from real time engagement in the activities of the UN.

In a Statement delivered at the UN General Assembly debate of the Fourth Committee on questions relating to information by Mr. Michael Okwudili, a Senior Counsellor at the Permanent Mission of Nigeria to the United Nations in New York, Nigeria said real time engagement of developing countries in the activities of the UN is being constrained by underdevelopment.

According to him, “Many developing countries have limited access to robust internet infrastructures, resulting in an exclusion from real time engagement from the activities of the UN, especially as the UN has digitalized the dissemination of its activities and programmes.”

Mr. Okwudili warned that care must be taken “to ensure that the media chosen for dissemination do not leave out less developed countries, which is a key theme that the Secretary-General has always emphasized.”

Observing that the 2017 edition of the International Mother Language day, which was held with the theme, “Towards Sustainable Futures through Multilingual Education”, underscored the nexus between multilingualism and sustainable development, he said Nigeria supports various initiatives undertaken so far and that “we believe they will go a long way to improve efforts at information dissemination at the United Nations.”

Mr. Okwudili acknowledged the role of the UN’s Department of Public Information (DPI) as the public voice of the global body, “which strives to develop and deepen an understanding of the ideals and purposes of the UN by providing a critical interface between the UN and the diverse global community.”

He said:  “We believe that the work of the Committee has several components, an important one of which is the promotion of inclusivity.”

Stressing that “inclusivity is a critical component of multilingualism”, Mr. Okwudili said:  “When you speak to people in a language they do not understand, you deny yourself the opportunity of projecting your worldview, and decelerate the opportunity of harnessing their contributions to your objectives. Where there is a lack of inclusivity therefore, there will be a tendency to exclude important segments of your targeted audience.”

It is for this reason, he noted, that Nigeria “unequivocally supports persistent calls for the contemporaneous translation of UN documents in all working languages of the organization,” adding that “to do less than this would be tantamount to exclusion by other means.”