All the major cities in Africa will be interconnected with broadband infrastructure by 2012. The International Telecommunication Union and the African Development Bank (AfDB) have agreed to collaborate on the project which will go a long way to keeping Africa in touch with the rest of the world.
Speaking at the Connect Africa Summit on Rwanda today, Donald Kaberuka, president of the AfDB, comments: "In recent years, private investment in ICT infrastructure, especially in mobile phone networks, has had an enormous impact in many parts of Africa – but major gaps remain. The development banks and other financing partners have a responsibility to step in where these gaps are holding back development in the region."
Secretary-General of ITU, Dr Hamadoun Touré, adds: "The solution for African development is not charity. African countries need modern, reliable broadband ICT infrastructure to attract investment for jobs and economic growth. This is about economic independence and strengthening Africa's competitive position in the global economy."
As part of the collaboration, ITU and AfDB will actively mobilise partners and financing to close ICT broadband infrastructure gaps between major centres in Africa.
AfDB hosts the Secretariat of the African Infrastructure Consortium, which brings together major donors and financial institutions active in the region. This group plays a crucial role in the financing of projects, as well as in ensuring a coherent approach among those involved.
"The bank aims to stimulate economic growth and climate and facilitate economic integration. We want to make the economies of Africa more competitive, and therefore AfDB is committing to the development of information and communication technology across the continent," says Kaberuka.
To support the implementation of ICT infrastructure projects funded by the AfDB or other interested financing partners, ITU will serve as an executing agency and provide telecommunications expertise and technical assistance, where the need arises. ITU will also mobilise its base of more than 650 sector members, including many leading ICT industry players.
To support new ICT infrastructure investments and fill in remaining gaps, ITU and AfDB will jointly undertake feasibility studies and develop project proposals in consultation with Member States and other stakeholders in the region.
With the aim of rationalising available funds and building on efforts in other sectors, ITU and AfDB will also work together to promote wider integration of ICT with other major infrastructure investments. This would include laying broadband fibre alongside transport and energy projects, as well as encouraging innovative infrastructure sharing approaches among telecommunication/ICT operators.
ITU and AfDB also agreed to collaborate in assisting countries to develop policies and regulations to encourage new ICT infrastructure investments.