The African Development Bank and the Gabonese National Agency for Numerical Infrastructure and Frequency (ANINF) have signed agreements a feasibility study for the country’s component of the Central African Backbone (CAB) project. The project is an integrated, innovative and transformative infrastructure which consist of completing the 901.8 km fiber optic connectivity to cover 14 missing links on the Gabonese national backbone.
The project will enhance regional integration in the Central Africa region through fiber optic infrastructure enabling cross-border interconnection exchange with neighboring countries – Congo, Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea. It will open up opportunities that will integrate Gabon in the information and communications community, among other initiatives poised to close the digital divide especially in rural areas and empower marginal communities.
The total project preparation cost is US$ 900,000 provided by he Bank through the NEPAD Infrastructure Project Preparation Facility Special Fund (NEPAD-IPPF) which enables African countries to prepare bankable regional infrastructure projects to promote integration to support socio-economic transformation. The Bank will coordinate the preparation, structuring and packaging of the project as lead arranger to ensure subsequent fundind and implementation.
The CAB-Gabon project is considered to be among the most innovative digital projects that the Bank plans to implement. Sponsors will be identified to participate in the project under a win-win collaborative partnership with global players to invest in the best ICT technologies. The envisaged large internet broadband will boost regional integration with Gabon endowed with the largest ICT hub in Central Africa and able to attract international companies within the central free trade zone with innovations in various sectors. Digital innovations that that can be derived from the project will include services such as the duty free money transfers.
The financing of fiber optics and e-government infrastructures (datacenters) in Central Africa will significantly lower the cost of internet fees considered to be the highest on the global scale, and will add competitiveness to regional exchanges and provide an important demonstration effect for new public and private sector infrastructure projects in the region.
The Agreement was signed on 20th February 2018 by the Director General of ANINF, Bernard Bongo Odimba and Mr. the Bank’s Director-General for Central Africa, Ousmane Dore.