INTERNET

World Bank to Invest $215 Million to Boost Internet in Central Africa

The World Bank has announced a 10-year US$215 million fund to support the countries of the Central African region in developing their high-speed telecommunications backbone infrastructure to increase the availability of high-speed Internet and reduce end-user prices.

Three countries - Cameroon, Chad and Central African Republic (CAR) - are participating in the initial US$26.2 million phase of the Program. A further eight countries are also eligible to participate in the Program - Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Niger, Nigeria, São Tomé and Principe, and Sudan.

The Central African Backbone (CAB) Program is being supported through a partnership between the World Bank Group and the African Development Bank (AfDB). The program also aims to leverage an additional US$98 million from the private sector.

The CAB Program brings much needed connectivity to Central Africa. Until now, people in Central Africa have the lowest quality and highest cost Internet and telephone services in Africa. The population pays up to two times more in monthly Internet rates than people living in other African countries, and up to three times more than those living in other parts of the world. "The CAB Program is very important for the countries involved and lies at the heart of their development strategies. It will assist countries to strengthen their enabling environment, create competition and, ultimately increase access and lower the costs for end users," said Mary Barton-Dock, World Bank Country Director for Cameroon, Chad and Central African Republic.

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