EAC Backbone & Lake Victoria Maritime
- Reference: P-Z1-GB0-019
- Appraisal Date: 19/05/2011
- Board Presentation: 14/09/2011
- Status: LendingLEND
- Implementing Agency:
The project comprises five main components and activities namely 1) the network design and construction of Optical Fibre Cable (OFC), 2) Maritime Communication System for Safety, 3) the initial operations and maintenance of the regional ICT backbone network, 4) establishment of a Special Purpose Vehicle for the Public Private Partnership (PPP) model, and 5) project management (including the strengthening of the Project Coordination Unit).These components are elaborated in the following paragraphs.
Component 1: Network construction and equipping of the OFC (UA 14.96). This component will support the network design and construction of the OFC. It will comprise: acquisition of access rights from the national ICT backbones and installation of the transmission equipment in the existing buildings of telecommunication operators' on a co-location basis. The network would be established by leasing dark fibres from existing fibre owners. The network would be a full terrestrial ring network connecting all the five EAC countries. The route traverses Mombasa-Nairobi-Malaba-Kampala-Katuna-Kigali-Akanyaru-Bujumbura- Kobero-Biharamulo-Mwanza-Shinyanga-Singida-Dodoma-Dar es Salaam-Horohoro-Lunga Lunga - Mombasa. It covers a total distance of 4,493 km. Annex 1 shows the proposed network and node configuration.
Component 2: Maritime Communications System for Safety (UA 6.22). This component will support installation of extended range GSM network with location capability for the maritime system. The component will also support the establishment of the regional maritime coordination centre (MRCC) under Lake Victoria. It will further support the establishment and strengthening of Search and Rescue (SAR) stations that will be coordinated by the designated national SAR centres (one for each Partner State).
Component 3: Operations Maintenance (UA 3.14). This component will support the initial operations and maintenance of the backbone network for two years. The first two years are included as investment costs, since the first year would be required for setting up the organization and train staff, and the second year would be focused on acquiring customers. The project assumes availability of dark fibre for leasing at low prices. This component also shows the leasing costs for two years only. It consists of annual estimates for leasing one pair of dark fibre at the total length of 4,493 km. The cost estimate is based on a unit leasing cost of USD 23.5 /pair/month/km. This is a recurring annual cost but only two years are included after which time it is assumed that the network would be revenue earning.
Component 4: Organizational arrangement (UA 0.17): This component will support the set-up of a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) to eventually own and operate the regional ICT backbone network. The SPV will be established on the Public Private Partnership (PPP) model. Specific activities related to establishing the SPV include
(i) negotiation and conclusion of EAC Protocol on ICT Networks and
(ii) legal and financial structuring of SPV.
Component 5: Project Management (Strengthening Implementation Capacity of Project Coordination Unit) (UA 1.57): This component will provide additional resources for the proper establishment and operation of a Project Coordination Unit and the Project Steering committee. This component will also support staff training and organization of workshops, meetings, etc.
The project objective is to accelerate the socio-economic development and regional integration of the five EAC Partner States through the provision of improved cross-border broadband access at lower prices and save lives in the maritime activities on Lake Victoria
The key priorities of EAC and the Partner States are regional integration, economic growth and overall socio-economic development of the sub-region. The goal of this project is to accelerate the socio-economic development and regional integration of the five EAC Partner States through the provision of improved and affordable cross-border broadband access and appropriate communication system for maritime navigation safety on Lake Victoria. Lack of adequate and affordable communications services is one of the main obstacles to economic growth and social development. Africa is still lagging behind other continents in Information and Communication Technology (ICT). It is widely recognized that without embracing ICT, the development gap between Africa and the rest of the world will continue to widen.
One of the persisting challenges in EAC is the lack of backbone terrestrial ICT Infrastructure network interconnecting the Partner States. This had led to poor and limited intra regional traffic, narrow-band Internet access, and high telecommunication tariffs. These problems are accentuated for the three landlocked countries of Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda. In response, the EAC Partner States have facilitated both public and private sector investments in national fibre optic networks. Similar efforts at the sub-regional level have resulted in the current regional ICT backbone network project, which is meant to complement the national efforts. The project also complements the EASSY and RASCOM projects financed by the Bank through the Private sector window.
In adequate Maritime Communications System for Safety on Lake Victoria also remains a major challenge and concern for the countries surrounding the Lake (Kenya, tanzania and Uganda). Current maritime safety conditions offered by the existing communications network and rescue system hamper attracting investments in Lake transport, tourism and water sports. Additionally, weak communication area coverage limits socio-economic welfare of the communities and progress of businesses carried out in the vicinity of the Lake.
The proposed project is meant to enhance the availability and quality of broadband access and maritime communications to reduce cost of communications in an integrated EAC common market and save lives on the lake. This is in line with the EAC Council Decision on the development of a high capacity fibre optic backbone infrastructure in the region, Regional Integration Strategy Paper (RISP) and the resolutions of the Connect Africa Summit held in Kigali in October 2007. It is also in harmony with the continental ICT agenda as decided by the 14th African Union Summit held in February 2010.
Leaving the situation as it is (whereby the individual national backbones are detached from one another) would mean that broadband connectivity for cross boarder communications would continue to be of limited and inadequate supply while cost would remain high and hardly affordable by the large segment of the society. Alternatively, waiting until private sector investors decide to take the initiative on the establishment of the EAC-BIN, would fail because it requires negotiation of licencing terms with different governments in a region without unified legislative and tariff regimes. And this private sector approach would not, in any case, address the MCSS component, which is not expected to generate profits and mainly covers social aspects to be implemented by the Partner States
Project benefits include: 1.. Reduced unit price of cross-border broadband connectivity 2. Increased supply and demand of cross-border broadband connectivity 3. Reduced transaction time for securing cross-border connectivity 4. Facilitate both intra national and regional trade 5. Establish GSM maritime communications on Lake Victoria; Maritime Coordination centre; and Search Rescue facilities in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania to save lives in the maritime activities on Lake Victoria 6.Operational Maritime Communications system with ability to locate and process distress signal on the lake
JACK Salieu - OITC3