The European Investment Bank has pledged $17.7 million (Ksh. 1.8 billion) to expand internet connection to remote villages across Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Zambia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The bank made this announcement on Tuesday, further saying it will partner up with private companies in building the infrastructure needed to take internet connection to the identified villages.
The project will be undertaken within the next two years, but the bank has yet to name the entity it will partner with in deploying the internet infrastructure. The decision to invest in internet connection was informed by a need to create support for the increasing use of electronic commercial ventures.
The European Investment Bank is a lending arm of the European Union, and this fund – of about €15.4 million – is part of a larger fund totaling €495 million the bank has pledged for the continent of Africa for transport, clean energy, and internet access projects.
Dr. Werner Hoyer, the President of the bank said, “Sustainable transport, clean energy, and communications networks are shared challenges for Europe and Africa. Working together, we can improve the lives of millions. The three projects signed today are more evidence of this.”
Curbing illegal immigration into Europe
It is public knowledge that there are a good number of African who migrate illegally into Europe in search of jobs. No doubt, this immigration leads to the straining of social amenities in addition to social unrest within the European countries. The move by the bank, which entails partnering with other stakeholders in Africa, will see the improvement of business enabling environment.
The Internet is part of the technology that can be used to create business and jobs. Hopefully, such development will dissuade particularly the youth from making the often dangerous journey across the Mediterranean Sea into Europe.
This project is set to lay down a fibre network of 4,850 km, and will add at least nine million people into the pool of users accessing internet in Africa.