NAIROBI – The World Bank has approved financing worth $164.5 million for Kenya, Burundi and Madagascar for high-speed internet connections, the bank said on Tuesday.
The region is the only place in the world not connected to the global broadband infrastructure, making telephone calls and Internet access very expensive, the bank said.
“Businesses are unable to compete in the global economy, university students suffer because they cannot access the Internet, and government agencies cannot communicate effectively with each other and their citizens because they are not connected,” the bank’s statement said.
The bank cited one Kenyan call-centre entrepreneur who has to pay $17,000 per month for 25 agents to make calls from the country compared to costs of only $600-900 paid by other call centers elsewhere in the world.
Kenya and Madagascar got loans of $114.4 million and $30 million respectively, while the remaining $20.1 million was a grant to Burundi. The money is the first tranche of a $424 million Regional Communications Infrastructure Program (RCIP).
The three countries are part of a wider regional initiative by over 20 nations to lay an undersea fiber-optic cable linking South Africa and Sudan.