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Wednesday, November 07, 2007

ITU, AfDB connect African cities

Global telecommunications regulator, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and African Development Bank (AfDB) have entered a pact to collaborate in interconnecting capitals and major cities on the continent.

Disclosing this, Secretary-General of ITU, Dr Hamadoun Touré and President, AfDB Mr Donald Kaberuka, revealed this on Tuesday at the Connect Africa Summit in Kigali, Rwanda.

According to them, the collaboration would pave the way for achieving key Connect Africa Summit goals.

Mr Kaberuka said that his organisation is aware of the challenges ahead for Africa.

He noted that in recent years, despite private investment in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) infrastructure, especially in mobile phone networks, has had an enormous impact in many parts of Africa, adding that

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,” he declared.

Mr Kaberuka also said that 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,” Mr. Kaberuka said.

Just as AfDB hosts the secretariat of the African Infrastructure Consortium, which assembles major donors and financial institutions active in the region, even as this group plays a crucial role in the financing of projects, as well as in ensuring a coherent approach among those involved.

For Dr. Toure, the solution for African development is not charity, but reliable broadband deployment.

“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,” he asserted.

He said that as part of this collaboration, ITU and AfDB would actively mobilize partners and financing to close ICT broadband infrastructure gaps between major centres in Africa.

In addition, 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.

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 on the continent.

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