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World Bank approves US$164.5 mn for connectivity to make Kenya

06
Apr '07
The World Bank Board of Directors approved on March 29, an International Development Association (IDA) financing package of US$164.5 million for Kenya, Burundi and Madagascar as the first tranche of the US$424 million Regional Communications Infrastructure Program (RCIP) for high-speed connectivity in East and Southern Africa.

The region is being held back by the prohibitive costs of international connectivity. Businesses are unable to compete in the global economy; university students suffer because they cannot access the Internet; and Government agencies cannot communicate effectively with each other and their citizens because they are not connected.

East and Southern Africa is the only region in the world that is not connected to the global broadband infrastructure and accounts for less than one percent of the worlds international bandwidth capacity. As a result of this missing link, the region relies on satellite connectivity, with costs amongst the highest in the world.

One Kenyan call-center entrepreneur told the World Bank Board of Directors the region simply cannot compete. To put 25 agents on the phone, it will cost us close to US$17,000 a month. Elsewhere, it will only cost US$600-900 a month said Nicholas Nesbitt, CEO of KenCall. It is absolutely imperative that something be done right now to make bandwidth affordable. Otherwise, were going to miss a huge opportunity and people are simply going to say that Africa is not ready for these kinds of jobs, is not ready for business.


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