The World Bank Group has revealed plans to double its investment in the information and communications sector in Africa to $2 billion by 2012. Over the last five years, the World Bank has invested $1 billion in Africa.
With the intention to bridge the digital divide and make internet access possible to large population groups in Africa, the World Bank will continue to promote private sector participation in funding with an emphasis on affordable high speed internet. The funds will be channeled through World Bank, International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA).
To encourage improvements in infrastructure for high speed internet, governments of 25 East and Southern African countries in partnership with private telecom operators, were provided support with $424m through Regional Communications Infrastructure Program (RCIP) in April 2007. The collaborations will aim to enhance connectivity in the rural areas and smaller towns.
About one third of the region’s foreign direct investment, more than $25 billion, has been invested in the Sub-Saharan Africa in the last 10 years, mostly by the private sector. Mobile telephony has shown success in Africa and the group plans to replicate the success in broadband Internet connectivity. Currently, less than 1% of the Africa’s population has access to high speed connectivity compared to over 30% in other countries.
This access gap must be addressed before Africa can be connected to the globalized economy and use ICT to improve public services, overcome poverty, and enable regional integration, said Robert B. Zoellick, president at World Bank Group.
The Bank also allocated approximately $65m for two key regional infrastructure projects including RASCOM, Africa’s first transcontinental satellite and the Eastern African Submarine Cable Systems (EASSy). The EASSy submarine cable is designed to connect 21 countries in Africa with each other and with the rest of the world.
Along with the World Bank, International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and African Development Bank (AfDB) have also undertaken the task to connect all African capitals and major cities with a broadband infrastructure and strengthen connectivity with the rest of the world by 2012.
The total investment to secure universal internet access by 2012 in Africa will be approximately $55 billion. Currently, many African broadband projects are incomplete due to the lack of funds.
Source: ComputerWire daily updates