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On Friday, December 9, 2016, the Board of Directors of the African Development Bank Group (AfDB) approved a loan of €31.4 million and a grant of €12.5 million to the Republic of Niger to finance the national component of the project of the Trans-Saharan fiber-optic backbone (DTS). By establishing links between Niger, Chad, Algeria and Nigeria, and by consolidating their interconnections with other neighbouring countries (Benin and Burkina Faso), the backbone will increase access to high speed broadband, guaranteeing quality telecommunication services at an affordable price for both Nigerian and Chadian populations and businesses.
The installation of 1,510 km of optic fiber will connect Chad with Niger, and connect Niger to Algeria and Nigeria, while strengthening its interconnections with Burkina Faso and Benin. Opening these new channels will strengthen the capacity for data exchange and will reduce the price, with a strong leverage effect on the digital economy throughout the whole sub-region.
“Niger and Chad are landlocked countries where the interconnection of communication networks with neighbouring countries is crucial for the development of the ICT sector to diversify their economies,” said Samatar Omar Elmi, ICT Engineer in charge of the project within the AfDB.
By 2020, at the completion of the project, the penetration rate of internet services should have doubled, from 15% to 30% of the Nigerian population. Information and communication technologies (ICTs) could then account for more than 5% of GDP, compared with 2.5% currently, and contribute to the diversification of the economy and job creation, especially for young graduates.
The project also includes the establishment of pilot data centres, the installation of electronic management platforms and the implementation of the Integrated Systems for the Management of Electronic Identification of Persons (SIGIEP). The development of the e-government will enhance the efficiency of public services and their accessibility in the region.
In order to accelerate the adoption of ICT, the project includes support to institutions of higher education, as well as a component devoted to the empowerment of women. By 2020, nearly 800 Nigerien students will receive training in fiber optics, while 20,000 women will receive training in ICT and entrepreneurship.
“The DTS project is expected to be an important vector for territorial and social cohesion. In this respect, it is mainly aligned with two of the five main operational priorities adopted by the AfDB in its Strategy 2013-2022: regional integration, and the improvement of the quality of life of the beneficiary populations,” said Amadou Oumarou, Director of the Department of Transport, Urban Development and ICT at the AfDB.