The European Union has today pledged £25.5 (€30) million towards the global collaboration project AfricaConnect, which aims to provide high-capacity internet to an array of research and education facilities across Africa.
This is the third instalment of the AfricaConnect project which – after starting in 2011 – has successfully improved and increased the connectivity of 19 countries into three regional, research and education networks.
Africa has recorded the highest growth globally in internet access; in 2005 only 2.1 percent of the continent was connected to the internet, that figure stood at 24.4 percent in 2018. This growth is no easy task given that the African continent has a land mass of 30.37 million km² and contains some of the most isolated locations on Earth.
AfricaConnect Phase Three
This is the third initiative of its name. The first began in 2011 and helped deliver high-capacity internet networks to research and education projects in Southern and Eastern Africa. For example the National Research and Education Network in Zambia was able to increase its internet capacity by a multitude of 60, dropping costs by 94 percent over the course of four years.
AfricaConnect is tasked with expanding on the results achieved within the first two phases of the project. The project has three levels and stages of attack to help increase not just connectivity on the continent, but will also increase awareness of the importance of digital transformation within the education and research sector.
The access to tertiary education and research institutions will be enhanced by establishing secure, adequate and affordable network infrastructures, such as high-speed broadband connectivity
The development of Research and Education through dedicated services, applications and user support will be fostered
Adequate human resource capacities and expertise will be built within RRENs and NRENs
Awareness of the role of digital transformation for education and research will be raised by emphasising the enabling potential of digital tools and their multiplier effect for skills development, employability and economic growth
Jutta Urpilainen EU Commissioner for International Partnerships commented: “Affordable high-speed broadband connectivity enables African youth, students, and researchers to boost collaborative scientific research with their peers around the world to help them tackle challenges in Africa. This is an important step towards tackling the digital divide.”