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20.03.2008 Business & Finance

BT, CTO to carry out African Rural Connectivity Initiative

By Accra Mail
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BT has committed to support the Commonwealth African Rural Connectivity Initiative (COMARCI), a project designed to find gaps in connectivity in the 18 African Commonwealth countries, with a view to improving telecommunications access.

COMARCI was launched at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Kampala, Uganda this past November. COMARCI is a flagship project of the Commonwealth Connects programme, which is an inter-agency initiative to optimise the use of information and communication technology (ICT) for development within the Commonwealth.

It is supported by the Government of Malta and by some 30 other telecommunications administrations of the Commonwealth. BT has provided funding to enable the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO) to carry out the first phase of the project.

During the first phase, a repository of information detailing the status of connectivity in the African Commonwealth countries will be built to increase awareness of all stakeholders.

The report will also identify and evaluate successful rural connectivity strategies in these countries, along with six other “peering” countries, namely, the USA, Canada, Australia, India, Malaysia and Finland, which have all tackled the challenge of rural connectivity with a considerable degree of success. In a subsequent phase, 10 of the most successful projects will be replicated in African Commonwealth countries through Public-Private-Peoples Partnerships.

The CEO of the CTO, Dr. Ekwow Spio-Garbrah, welcomed “the first steps of industry engagement in an initiative ultimately aimed at helping bridge the digital divide. BT's growing global footprint and the naturally strong links it enjoys with the target stakeholders will be further augmented by this gesture of support. As the UK's largest and one of the world's oldest telecommunications companies, the support of BT underscores to all potential partners that the COMARCI project is indeed a possible resolution to a real problem for billions of people, not only those in Africa, but also rural people the world over, who could benefit from the knowledge CTO is developing about the African case.”

Janet Blake, Head of Global Corporate Social Responsibility, BT said, “At BT we believe that everyone should have fair access to the opportunities of the digital age – education, employment and prosperity. Through our provision of ICT services worldwide we know how access to enhanced communications technology can literally transform the prospects of individuals, communities and countries. The CTO has a clear vision for improving rural connectivity and leveraging the power of ICT for national development objectives. We are delighted that BT's funding will help the region take a step forward on its journey towards sustainable economic growth”.

Source: Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation

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