Eastern and Southern Africa is the only major region in the world not connected to the global broadband infrastructure by fiber-optic cables. Twenty countries in the region lack such direct
access by fiber-optic cables to each other and to the international information and communications cable infrastructure. Instead, they are forced to rely on expensive satellite connectivity to link up with each other and the rest of the world.
This limited and costly connectivity translates into a high cost of communications services and helps to explain why the region accounts for less than one percent of the world’s bandwidth capacity. It impedes regional and international trade and limits the extent of job creation. It also hinders the potential to utilize ICT to extend learning, promote social participation and improve government efficiency and transparency.
The World Bank’s US$424 million Regional Communications Infrastructure Program (RCIP) is helping to address this connectivity gap and to bring affordable high speed connectivity to as many as 25 countries in Eastern and Southern Africa, based on World Bank funding eligibility.
RCIP financing of terrestrial networks and of capacity purchase schemes will be a catalyst to attract and maximise private sector investment in telecommunications infrastructure. RCIP complements regional undersea cable initiatives, such as the Eastern African Submarine Cable System (EASSy) developed by telecommunications operators with support from the IFC and other development partners.