In Kigali: Henny Rahardja
Tel. +250 32 094 49
Tel. +250 85 111 45
KIGALI, October 29, 2007 — Today at the Connect Africa Summit in Rwanda, the World Bank Group announced that it expects to double its commitment to information and communication technologies (ICT) in Africa to US$2 billion by 2012, from its current investment program of US$1 billion over the past five years. This financing will be channeled through its three financing arms: the World Bank, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), and the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA). The financing will continue to promote private sector participation, while supporting public private partnerships to address market gaps, with an emphasis on affordable high speed Internet.
In the last 10 years, more than US$25 billion has been invested in Sub-Saharan Africa, mostly by the private sector, representing about one third of all foreign direct investment to the region. In particular, mobile telephony is a remarkable success story in Africa. This is largely due to the opening up of the ICT markets throughout Africa.
The challenge now is to replicate the achievement in mobile telephony by also attracting major investment for broadband Internet connectivity. As of today, less than 1 percent of Africa’s population has access to high speed connectivity compared to over 30 percent in many countries.
“This access gap must be addressed before Africa can be connected to the globalized economy and use ICT to improve public services, overcome poverty, and enable regional integration” says Robert B. Zoellick, World Bank Group President in a televised address to the Summit.
World Bank financing will support partnerships between Governments and businesses in order to help fill gaps not being addressed by the market, especially for connectivity of rural areas and small towns. The recently approved US$424 million Regional Communications Infrastructure Program (RCIP) will support Governments of up to 25 East and Southern African countries to partner with private telecom operators to jointly invest in infrastructure for high speed Internet.
IFC financing will continue to support private sector African companies in telecoms and IT, as well as major infrastructure projects such as the Eastern African Submarine Cable Systems (EASSy) – together with partners including the African Development Bank. IFC will also encourage investments in new applications such as mobile banking. Such innovative use of technology has tremendous opportunity to deliver social and financial services, especially in rural areas.
infoDev, a multi-donor partnership housed in the World Bank, will continue to support the creation of knowledge products and capacity building for Africa. An ICT in Education survey has just been released cataloging initiatives in all 53 countries in Africa, while a capacity building initiative will strengthen African regulators’ ability to effectively manage competition in their ICT markets.
The Connect Africa Summit, which is taking place in Kigali, Rwanda on October 29-30, 2007 under the patronage of Rwandan President Paul Kagame, aims to secure concrete commitments from private sector, Governments and development financial institutions to ensure all African capitals and major cities are connected to high speed Internet by 2012.