Président de la Commission de l’Union Africaine (depuis le 1er. février 2008)
Countries that signed the protocol were Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Lesotho, Malawi, Madagascar, and South Africa. Commissioner Dr Bernard Zoba of the African Union signed as witness.
The signing paves the way for the project steering committee to fast-track implementation of the NEPAD ICT Broadband Infrastructure Network, which, among other things, involves construction of the 9900 km EASSy cable from Mtunzini, South Africa to Port Sudan in Sudan, scheduled to be operational in year 2008. The estimated cost for the project is USD 300 million.
Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame, who presided over the signing ceremony, praised the exercise, saying it optimised the partnerships and collaboration among African countries. He said that the meeting was important and historic in that it was the first time an ICT project of this magnitude has been conceived and spearheaded by Africans for Africa.
He noted the invaluable contribution of ICTs to social transformation and development, saying, “ICTs have made an enormous contribution to improvement of living standards of millions of people and is inseparable with socio-economic development. The ICT Broadband is becoming a basic infrastructure and our region has lagged behind in this regard. This is why we are here to correct this.”
The NEPAD e-Africa Commission, tasked with developing ICT policies, strategies and projects, and managing the development of the ICT sector in the NEPAD context, has been coordinating the initiative.
Says Dr Henry Chasia, the Deputy Executive Chairperson of NEPAD e-Africa Commission, “The project, which is a culmination of a great deal of effort in our region, will go a long way to symbolise cooperation among eastern and southern African countries. All countries agree on the need for the EASSy cable to be constructed as soon as possible.“
The project will go a long way to reducing the costs of access and to improving our telecommunications systems, thus bridging the digital divide and improving African lives” added Dr Chasia.
The 23 countries involved in the network are Angola, Botswana, Burundi, Djibouti, DRC, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. The period for signatures has been extended to November 2006. Ratification of the protocol will take place in June 2007.
The protocol provides for the formation of a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) to own, operate, and maintain the EASSy cable and the terrestrial network. The SPV will also ensure that the infrastructure meets the development and commercial objectives, and operates in accordance with NEPAD’s objectives and principles, as well as ‘Open Access’ principles. Rwanda will host the SPV.
Since its adoption by the Heads of State and Government Implementation Committee (HSGIC) in November 2004 as a NEPAD flagship project, the ICT broadband infrastructure project has been run under the auspices, context and principles of NEPAD, which emphasise collaboration among African countries, and specifically African ownership and leadership.
Source : nepad news, 8 September 2006