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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

BT partners CTO on COMARCI take off

The British Telecommunications plc (BT), a wholly-owned subsidiary of BT Group is partnering with the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO) on its Commonwealth African Rural Connectivity Initiative (COMARCI) for the take off of the first phase of the project.

CTO official, Lasantha De Alwis, informed that BT has committed to support COMARCI, a project designed to find gaps in connectivity in the 18 African Commonwealth countries, with a view to improving telecommunications access.

Champion Infotel recalls that COMARCI was launched at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Kampala, Uganda last November.

COMARCI is a flagship project of the Commonwealth Connects programme, which is an inter-agency initiative to optimise the use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for development within its domain.

Equally, the project is supported by the Maltese government and 30 other telecommunications administrations of the Commonwealth, just as BT with the recent collaboration provided funding to enable CTO to carry out the first phase of the project.

During the first phase, a repository of information detailing the status of connectivity in the African Commonwealth countries will be built to increase awareness of all stakeholders.

Additionally, De Alwis said that the report would also identify and evaluate successful rural connectivity strategies in these countries, along with six other “peering” countries, namely the United States (US), Canada, Australia, India, Malaysia and Finland, which have all tackled the challenge of rural connectivity with a considerable degree of success.

The CTO official in a press statement made available to Champion Infotel added that in a subsequent phase, 10 of the most successful projects would be replicated in African Commonwealth countries through Public-Private-Peoples Partnerships.

The chief executive of CTO, Dr. Ekwow Spio-Garbrah, was quoted as welcoming “the first steps of industry engagement in an initiative ultimately aimed at helping bridge the digital divide. BT’s growing global footprint and the naturally strong links it enjoys with the target stakeholders will be further augmented by this gesture of support.

He expressed delight as the United Kingdom (UK’s) largest and one of the world’s oldest telecommunications companies, the support of BT underscores to all potential partners that the COMARCI project is indeed a possible resolution to a real problem for billions of people, not only those in Africa, but also rural people the world over, who could benefit from the knowledge CTO is developing about the African case.

Head, Global Corporate Social Responsibility at BT, Ms Janet Blake, said they believe that everyone should have fair access to the opportunities of the digital age – education, employment and prosperity.

“Through our provision of ICT services worldwide we know how access to enhanced communications technology can literally transform the prospects of individuals, communities and countries. The CTO has a clear vision for improving rural connectivity and leveraging the power of ICT for national development objectives. We’re delighted that BT’s funding will help the region take a step forward on its journey towards sustainable economic growth,” she said.

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