UGANDA HEDGES ITS BETS IN CHOOSING BETWEEN EASSY OR KENYAN BREAKAWAY

Telecoms

With the key meeting happening this week to decide the fate of the EASSy project, Uganda has publicly said it will not decide between the NEPAD and Kenyan government proposals until after the meeting. The Kenyan Government has put some “flesh on the bone” for its breakaway proposal but again it will not be clear until the end of this week whether it will go it alone.

Patrick Mwesigwa, UCC's Technical Manager, told the Daily Monitor in an interview on Thursday that Uganda was still studying and assessing the situation and would adopt a definitive position on the issue after a June 3rd to 4th meeting in Johannesburg.

Organised by the New Partnership for African Development (Nepad) initiative, the meeting will bring the current principal project developers and regional ministers to further brainstorm on the contentious issues with an aim of reaching a consensus. "Right now it is a bit premature for us to say this is where we stand but after this Jo'burg meeting we will certainly agree with one of the parties," he said.

According to the existing plans the project was being developed as a public private partnership.It is spearheaded by a group of about 15 telecom companies-from regional countries-who have formed implementation committees. Uganda is represented by MTN and Uganda Telecom. According to the schedule, construction was due to commence in July this year.

The East African reported though that South Africa in concert with the World Bank's International Development Association, IDA and Nepad has lately suggested a parallel arrangement for development of the project and sought to foil the existing one.

According to the argument, this proposal was poorly designed and would not achieve its cardinal objective namely; bringing down costs of communication. Kenya, and a number of unspecified and unnamed countries have subsequently accused the S. African government of seeking to control regional digital traffic and profiteer from it. It has also reportedly signalled that it would lead group to develop EASSY if S. Africa and Nepad do not relent on their objection to the existing plans.

The Monitor