CIO East Africa (Nairobi)

23 July 2014

Congo-Kinshasa: World Bank Approves U.S. $92.1 Million to Expand DRC's Connectivity to Regional States

The World Bank Board of Executive Directors has approved a US $ 92.1 million International Development Assistance (IDA) grant to support the fifth phase of the Central African Backbone Program (CAB Program) for the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

This project will allow the country to access the fastest, most modern means of telecommunications at much lower prices by linking DRC's main economic clusters to each other, and to regional and global networks through neighboring countries.

"This project provides a unique opportunity to set up critical infrastructure and capitalize on the transformative power that Information and Communication Technologies have to promote growth and open new job opportunities to Congolese citizens." said Eustache Ouayoro, the World Bank Country Director for the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The financing will support the construction of missing links in the national fiber optic network in order to connect the country's most populated, but distant economic clusters of Kinshasa (West), Goma (East) and Lubumbashi (South). The project will bring in private sector investment through a Public-Private Partnership (PPP). By linking the three economic clusters, this new network will provide private telecommunications operators the opportunity to offer competitive, continuous services nationwide on a shared infrastructure network that would be too expensive for individual operators to finance alone. The project will also provide technical assistance to improve the governance of the sector.

"The project is part of the Great Lakes Initiative 'Reviving the Great Lakes: A World Bank Group Regional Initiative for Peace, Stability and Economic Development'. It would not only establish communications links connecting the east of the DRC to Kinshasa, but also increase DRC's connectivity to the other Great lakes countries," said Colin Bruce, the World Bank Director for Regional Integration for the Africa.

The project will include activities to help accelerate the emergence of an information society and the growth of the digital economy. It will help arrange interconnected networks to form a regional network with investments focused on improving connectivity. The project activities will also reinforce and strengthen regulatory tools and capacity to promote further sector reform. "The project will improve the reach and efficiency of public and private service delivery in DRC through ICT and globally it will allow opportunities for regional trade and cooperation, and strengthen the links between peace, security and long term development in the Great Lakes region," said World Bank Senior Director for the Global Practice Transport and ICT, Pierre Guislain, "I am pleased to support the implementation of CAB5 in the DRC."

The Project will be executed over a five-year period .

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