31 October 2014 by Max Smolaks
Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei and regional network provider Onatel have been commissioned to build fiber broadband networks for the small African nation of Burundi.
According to IT News Africa, the partners will deploy a Metropolitan Area Network (MAN) across the capital Bujumbura, to be used by the government and public sector agencies.
The project will be financed by a recent grant from the government of China to the people of Burundi.
Burundi is one of the world's most destitute countries, with around 80 percent of the population living below the poverty line. As a result, Burundi is dependent on foreign aid. According to data provided by ITU, just 1.2 percent of Burundians had access to the Internet by 2012.
The objective of the latest government initiative is to provide institutions like the parliament, the senate, courts and hospitals with a basic level of broadband connectivity.
The country’s leadership hopes this will help reduce administrative possess, increase productivity, reduce operations costs, attract more investors and improve service delivery to citizens and business communities.
It will also enable the government to start offering some e-governance services and a national ID program.
The fibre networks and telecommunications infrastructure will be delivered by Huawei and Onatel, a regional operator headquartered in Burkina Faso.
“Huawei looks forward to grow with the Government of Burundi and its people; it’s the reason we have all gathered here to kick start a new technological revolution that will hasten Social-economic development in this country,” said Radoslaw Kedzia, CEO of Huawei Technologies Uganda, Burundi.
He added that the company sees this as a long-term project, and pledged the support of Huawei to the people of Burundi in the future.
Chinese government had previously funded road construction and other infrastructure projects in Burundi, and will spend an estimated US$40 million to help switch the country from analogue TV broadcasting to digital by 2015.