Africa broadband protocol set for June

A critical mass of countries are expected to ratify the e-Africa Commission’s regional telecommunications protocol by the end of June, paving the way for implementation of broadband interconnection projects on the continent. The e-Africa Commission is part of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), based in Johannesburg, South Africa, and chartered by the African Union to build and develop the continent’s information and communications technology infrastructures. The telecommunications protocol provides a framework to coordinate regulatory and policy issues, and commits the signatories to implementing various broadband and network integration projects.

The protocol, for example, commits the countries to working on the EASSY cable project, designed to connect the East African seaboard to the rest of the world to support the increase in traffic from existing and new broadband services. Laying of cable for the East Africa Submarine System (EASSY) is now set to begin in the third quarter. A consortium of operators from several African countries earlier this year signed a US$240 million supply contract with Alcatel-Lucent SA to kick-start the project.

Several countries in eastern and southern Africa including Zambia, Malawi, Botswana, South Africa, Uganda and Zimbabwe have already signed the protocol. But other countries have moved more slowly.

At a recent regional ministerial conference in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, NEPAD Policy and Regulator Advisor Edmund Katiti said although most of the countries involved in the project were still discussing the ratification process, the target for ratification is the end of June.

By the end of June more than 20 countries in the eastern and Southern African region including Kenya, Tanzania, Burundi, Uganda, Mauritius, and the Democratic Republic of Congo are expected to ratify the protocol.

“Kenya is ready and committed to ensure that the regional connectivity is accomplished soon so as to have an efficient and affordable regional connectivity,” said Kenyan Assistant Minister of Information and Communication David Were.

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