The European Commission has announced it will release €30m in funding to boost broadband connectivity throughout Africa.
The funding will support the third round of the AfricaConnect programme, which aims to provide high capacity internet for research and education institutions and networks across the continent. Jutta Urpilainen, the EU’s Commissioner for International Partnerships, said: “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.”
The funding is set to be distributed across three African Regional Research and Education Networks, each covering a different region of the continent:
- ASREN, covering the North of Africa and areas of the Middle East;
- UbuntuNet Alliance, which operates across Southern and Eastern Africa; and
- WACREN, which focuses on Central and Western Africa.
GÉANT, a collaborative, Europe-wide network focused on shoring up connectivity, data sharing and the e-infrastructure across the global research and education sectors, will be responsible for co-ordinating the regional networks’ projects and delivering network procurement.
GÉANT CEO Erik Huizer said: “GÉANT is delighted to be part of this project and thankful to the European Commission for the grant. We look forward to continue working with our African partners. The European research and education community shows an increasing demand for communication and information sharing with their African peers. So, we see this project as not only improving access for Africa’s students and researchers, but really benefiting the global community. GÉANT’s longstanding and well proven expertise in procurement will be integral to the success of this project.”
Since the launch of the AfricaConnect initiative in 2013, the scheme has provided and augmented high speed internet connectivity to more than 800 educational institutions across Africa. The third round of the programme will run until 2023.