The East African Community (EAC) will put in place modalities that will lead to intercity connectivity of the region’s business capitals of Kigali, Kampala, Bujumbura, Dar es Salaam and Nairobi in order to enhance the integration process.
A statement by the EAC Deputy Secretary General (Planning and Infrastructure), Alloys Mutabigwa, said the bloc will partner with the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), the African Development Bank (AfDB), the World Bank (WB), and the European Union (EU), to make the connectivity possible.
The ICT broadband infrastructure which also seeks to strengthen connectivity with the rest of the world is projected to be in place by 2012, and hopes are that it will lead to reduction of costs among consumers, especially in East Africa.
“The EAC partner states and other stakeholders are still looking into all possible ways of achieving the desired goals of connecting into the international fibre,” Mutabingwa said.
He called for the review of the existing regulatory framework, which he said, should seek to address the issue on quick returns on investment in the ICT field.
Some Rwandan subscribers are already connected to the Seacom fibre-optic undersea cable, through the micro-wave technology.
They include mainly clients of Rwandatel and Altech Stream, a private Internet Service Provider (ISP).
Mutabingwa said that international gateways for the submarine cables landing stations may have to be shared, adding that a number of options may also be explored.
“The issue of “rights of way” and how Open Access is managed requires a joint regulatory framework which the EAC is working to address together with the regulators in the region.
The EAC is of the view that Open Access should allow the end-user to access the services offered on the fibre backbone,” he said.
At a regional level, Mutabingwa added, consumers may find it advisable to set up an advocacy group that will play a role in coming up with proposals for harmonization of services, fees, quality of content and services, and fair competition.
In 2007, the World ITU Summit (Connect Africa Summit) that took place in Kigali recommended that all African villages be connected to broadband ICT services by 2015 and implement shared access initiatives such as community tele-centres and village phones.