Rwanda Gets $24 Million Boost for Regional Broadband Networks

Internet

The World Bank has announced that it has approved $24 million for a program that will see Rwanda develop her national capacity to provide broadband connectivity.

The money that was cleared through an International Development Association (IDA) financing grant for the Regional Communication Infrastructure Program - Rwanda Project (RCIPRW), is supposed to increase the availability of broadband to more than 700 Rwandan institutions including schools, health centers and local government administrative centers. IDA is the concessional lending arm of the World Bank.

The money will also help increase the availability of international bandwidth to the country by ensuring that Rwanda is connected to the East coast submarine fibre-optic cables. It is envisaged that a Rwandan cable will be connected to either the Seacom or EASSy submarine cables on the East African coast. Work on the both the Seacom and the EASSy cables has already commenced.

Once connected it would mean that Rwandans will have the opportunity of benefiting from Seacom's 1.2Tb bandwidth capacity or the initial capacity of 640Mb from the EASSy project. Both Seacom and EASSy cables aim to be fully operational in time for the 2010 Soccer World Cup to be played in South Africa.

According to a statement issued by the World Bank last week the volume of international bandwidth connected to Rwanda is expected to rise more than three times and the price is expected to fall by over 50 per cent.

The Rwanda project is part of the World Bank's $424m Regional Communication Infrastructure Program which is designed to improve the regional communications infrastructure and increase the deployment of e-government in Southern and Eastern Africa.

The program also complements the submarine fibre optic cable projects being developed along the East coast of Africa which will link the region into the global communications network.

RCIP Rwanda will also promote investment and competition among local licensed operators and Internet Service Providers (ISPs), who will be selected to implement project activities through a competitive bidding process.

According to the Director General of ICT at the Office of the President, David Kanamugire, "The availability of affordable broadband countrywide will play a critical role in realising our transition to a service oriented, knowledge based economy."

Rwanda is already working on a national fibre optic loop that will run across the country. RITA Executive Director Nkubito Bakuramutsa the role of Rwanda's private sector on this project is to provide the physical connections to customers of the access network.

The Monitor