The undersea cable environment around the African continent continues to evolve. Proposed cables appear, disappear, merge. Steve Song from the Shuttleworth Foundation is keeping track.
The Kigali Protocol for the NEPAD ICT Network Comes into Force
Pretoria, South Africa, 19 February 2008. The protocol on policy and regulatory framework for NEPAD ICT Broadband Infrastructure Network, known as the Kigali protocol, came into force on 13th February 2008, after His Excellency Dr Bingu Wa Mutharika, President of the Republic of Malawi put pen to paper in Lilongwe, Malawi. Malawi thus became the seventh country to ratify the protocol. Other countries that have already ratified the protocol are: Lesotho, Mauritius, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe. Ratification by seven countries was the majority needed to bring the protocol into force.
The signed instrument of ratification from the Malawian President reads in part, “I, Dr Bingu Wa Mutharika, President of the Republic of Malawi, for and on behalf of the Republic of Malawi, do hereby notify and confirm, in accordance with Article 22 of the protocol, that the Republic of Malawi ratifies the Protocol.”
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 signing and ratification of the Kigali Protocol.
Says Dr Henry Chasia, the Executive Deputy Chairperson of the NEPAD e-Africa Commission, “What this development means is that we can now go ahead to quickly implement the NEPAD ICT Broadband Infrastructure Network, comprising of UHURUNET (the submarine cable), and UMOJANET (the terrestrial segment), to provide quality and affordable telecommunications connectivity to Eastern and Southern Africa and to the rest of the African continent. This network will be a major step in interconnecting the African continent and thus helping to bridge the digital divide, and improving lives of Africans.
The partnerships and collaboration among African countries will be epitomized by the joint ownership, development and operation of the NEPAD network. The countries that did not sign the Kigali Protocol by the deadline of November 30, 2006, can now accede to the protocol and thus benefit from the NEPAD network”
The Kigali Protocol was negotiated by a wide range of stakeholders and was accepted and signed by 12 countries in the Eastern and Southern Africa. The Protocol takes account of the NEPAD network principles in the development of a policy and regulatory framework for the region, as well as in the details of Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs) that will own, operate and maintain the NEPAD network.
“We can now take the necessary steps to bring together entities that were nominated to be shareholders in the NEPAD submarine SPV to discuss issues such as a shareholders agreement, and thereafter form the SPV. We expect construction of the submarine cable to start soon, and to be completed before the 2010 FIFA World Cup”, says Dr Edmund Katiti, the NEPAD ICT policy and Regulatory Advisor.
It is envisaged that once implemented, the NEPAD ICT Broadband Infrastructure Initiative will greatly reduce the costs of telecommunications and increase the efficiency and effectiveness of how Africa does business with the rest of the world.
The countries that signed the Kigali protocol are: Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
The inaugural signing of the NEPAD Broadband ICT Infrastructure Network was held in Kigali, Rwanda on 29 August 2006, where the first seven countries signed the protocol; namely: Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda. Subsequently, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mauritius, The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and Zambia, signed the protocol.
For more information and media inquiries, please contact: Samuel Mikenga Communications Manager, NEPAD e-Africa Commission Tel: +27 12 841 4523 Tel: +27 72 529 6769 E-mail: email@example.com