The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the African Development Bank (AfDB) have agreed to collaborate on interconnecting all African capitals and major cities with ICT broadband infrastructure and strengthen connectivity to the rest of the world by 2012. As part of this collaboration, both organisations will actively mobilize partners and financing to close ICT broadband infrastructure gaps between major centres in Africa.
AfDB hosts the Secretariat of the African Infrastructure Consortium, which brings together major donors and financial institutions active in the region. This group plays a crucial role in the financing of projects, as well as in ensuring a coherent approach among those involved. To support the implementation of ICT infrastructure projects funded by the AfDB or other interested financing partners, the ITU will serve as an executing agency and provide telecommunications expertise and technical assistance, where the need arises. It will also mobilize its base of more than 650 Sector Members, including many leading ICT industry players.
The ITU and AfDB will jointly undertake feasibility studies and develop project proposals in consultation with Member States and other stakeholders in the region. With the aim of rationalizing available funds and building on efforts in other sectors, the two organisations will also 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.
Commenting on the challenge ahead, the president of the AfDB, Donald Kaberuka, said, “In recent years, private investment in ICT infrastructure, especially in mobile phone networks, has had an enormous impact in many parts of Africa, but 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.”