AFDB to help connect African cities

KIGALI - The African Development Bank (AFDB) has agreed to work jointly with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) in interconnecting all African capitals and major cities with ICT broadband infrastructure. Both organisations also agreed that thereafter they will strengthen Africa’s connectivity to the rest of the world by 2012.The deal was reached on Monday in Kigali as hundreds of top government and business leaders gathered at Serena Hotel to chart the future of ICT on the highly unconnected continent.
African Development Bank President Dr Donald Kaberuka. During his campaign two years ago, the former Rwandan Finance minister                             pledged to transform the bank’s support programmes, focussing mostly on building cross-border infrast
African Development Bank President Dr Donald Kaberuka. During his campaign two years ago, the former Rwandan Finance minister pledged to transform the bank’s support programmes, focussing mostly on building cross-border infrast

KIGALI - The African Development Bank (AFDB) has agreed to work jointly with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) in interconnecting all African capitals and major cities with ICT broadband infrastructure. Both organisations also agreed that thereafter they will strengthen Africa’s connectivity to the rest of the world by 2012.The deal was reached on Monday in Kigali as hundreds of top government and business leaders gathered at Serena Hotel to chart the future of ICT on the highly unconnected continent.

Under the deal, the ITU and AfDB will actively mobilize partners and financing to close ICT broadband infrastructure gaps between major centres in Africa.
AfDB, led by Rwanda’s Dr Donald Kaberuka, hosts the Secretariat of the African Infrastructure Consortium, which brings together major donors and financial institutions active on the continent.

During his campaign for the top AfDB job in 2005, Kaberuka pledged to ensure that the bank plays a leading role in building cross-border infrastructure around the continent.
‘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,’ the bank said in a statement.

The two agencies also agreed to ‘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,’ the statement indicated.

It added ‘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 mobilize its base of more than 650 Sector Members, including many leading ICT industry players.’
ADB President Dr Donald Kaberuka said: “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.”

Microsoft announces support
Meanwhile, Microsoft has also promised support to the Africa’s initiative to connect the continent with a backbone broadband infrastructure.

The company’s vice president Michael Rawding said Microsoft will mobilise human, financial and technical resources required to expand the development of the ICT, infrastructure and connectivity.

“We view ‘Connect Africa’ as an important form of to have a dialogue about a new way of thinking about the problem of ICT and economic development in Africa,” Rawding said.

He said Microsoft will collaborate with African governments to mobilize for skilled human capacity and access across the region.

“We like other large multinational companies have traditionally thought about ICT for development more as part of our corporate social responsibility and not as part of the mainstream of business, but now we realize that we need a new approach and in line with the what President Paul Kagame and ITU Secretary General (Hamadoun Toure) said.”

Kagame said the role of government is to ensure a fair, transparent, and above all, competitive marketplace for ICT infrastructure.

“Not only do individual African governments have to increase our respective regulatory cohesion, we must also harmonise across the continent in order to become more attractive to domestic and foreign investment,” Kagame told the summit on Monday.

“We cannot emphasize enough that investors create wealth, and that this Summit provides us an opportunity to form partnership with African and international business community for greater prosperity on our continent,” he added.

Like many other participants, Rawding said there is no requirement of a new idea but the implementation of the existing initiatives and taking best practices and sharing them broadly.

“Where there is success, you cerebrate and show them to other countries which are not following the success map,” he said.

Rawding said he believed Rwanda can achieve its dream of becoming a regional ICT hub “considering what the country has achieved in the past few years.

“We have seen similar cases in other parts of the world where the same environment was created and governments set clear goals and a vision, and they have made it.

I do think it’s possible.”

Under its ambitious Vision 2020, Rwanda plans to be a knowledge-based middle-class economy by the year 2020.

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