Daily News  :: East Africa


IFC supports East African telecom project

Published: 21-JUL-06

Nairobi - The World Bank and its private sector arm, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) were to join other partners in financing an underwater telephone system aimed at reducing the cost of telecommunications in Africa.

The IFC said that following extensive negotiations with stakeholders of the East African Submarine Cable System (EASSy), it would mobilise other international organisations to provide technical assistance.

"The project structure has been agreed upon by governments, Nepad e-Africa Commission, telecommunications operators and the Development Financial Institutions represented at the Nairobi meetings by the African Development Bank (AfDB), and the European Investment Bank (EIB)," the IFC added.

The French Development Bank (AfD), its allies PROPARCO, the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA), KfW Entwicklungsbank (KFW), the World Bank and the IFC were to finance the project, estimated to cost $300mn.

Technical assistance was also being provided by the UK's Department for International Development (DFID), the European Union (EU), the Information for Development Programme (infoDev), the Public Private Infrastructure Advisory Facility (PPIAF) and the Swedish International Development Co-operation Agency.

A consensus was reached on the project at meeting in Nairobi, hosted by the Kenyan government.

A joint task force with representatives from each of the key stakeholder groups was also created to maintain continuous dialogue and channel governments' policy objectives into the Construction and Maintenance Agreement and the Shareholders' Agreement, the IFC added.

EASSy was an initiative to connect over 20 coastal and land- locked countries in East and Southern Africa.

The countries were: Burundi, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Rwanda, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The countries were working to access cheaper telecommunication by March 2008 after the 29 private and state-run entities involved in the project planning agreed to undertake the regional underwater cable, linking the entire continent.

Shareholders of EASSy, which unites state-run telecommunication entities and private data companies operating in the Indian Ocean States, Southern Africa and East Africa have completed rollout plans for the project.

Thirteen East and Southern Africa countries, including Ethiopia, Rwanda, Madagascar, Sudan, Zambia, Uganda, South Africa, Burundi and host Kenya, were represented at the three-day meeting on the implementation of the project, which the IFC said would boost regional competitiveness and enable Africa to participate more actively in the global economy. -panapress

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