Libreville — The Gabon government and the World Bank signed a US$58 million loan agreement that will help the country increase geographical reach and usage of regional broadband network services and bring down connection costs for businesses and consumers.
The loan, under the Central African Backbone Program (CAB), will connect Gabon to the new submarine fiber-optic cable between the African Coast and Europe (ACE), and disseminate this improved broadband access via terrestrial fiber-optic links to Franceville, Lekoni, Koulamoutou as well as to the border with Congo. The project is also part of the World Bank's contribution to implementing in Gabon the third pillar of the 2010-2015 CEMAC Regional Economic Program related to physical interconnectivity of its members countries.
"The conclusion of this loan agreement signals the World Bank's willingness to support Gabon's efforts to obtain modern telecommunications infrastructure capable of advancing its development aspirations," said Zouera Youssoufou, World Bank country manager for Gabon.
The CAB Gabon project will also contribute to the integrity of regional communications networks, and help to harmonize the sector regulation that governs information and communication technologies in CEMAC member countries.
Overall execution of the CAB Gabon project will be spearheaded by a commission responsible for coordinating and monitoring the construction of the national fiber optic backbone throughout Gabon, which includes the Ministry of Economy, Employment, and Sustainable Development, the Ministry of Digital Economy, Communications, and Postal Services, the National Works Agency, the Agency for the Regulation of Electronic Communications and Postal Services, and the National Agency for Digital Infrastructure and Frequencies.
Luc Oyoubi, Gabon's Minister of Economy, Employment, and Sustainable Development, thanked the World Bank for its commitment to supporting the sustainable development of telecommunications infrastructure in the country.
Youssoufou was joined by four government ministers for the signing ceremony, which she described as "the beginning of the implementation of the recently approved Country Partnership Strategy for Gabon," a US$250 million (CFAF 130 billion) partnership program approved by the World Bank's Executive Board in April 2012.
The World Bank strategy for Gabon seeks to trigger a process of transformative change that will provide targeted assistance to the government to lay the foundation for sustainable growth in the medium and long term.