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Pan African e-Network Project for Tele-education and Tele-medicine:Cote d’Ivoire, Gambia and Djibouti sign agreements

June 21, 2006

Following is the text of a Press Release issued by Embassy of India, Addis Ababa on June 21, 2006:

Several countries of Africa have shown interest to bring benefits of healthcare and higher education to their people by making use of the Indian offer of tele-medicine and tele-education through the Pan African e-Network programme. In the past one week, three countries have signed agreements with the Telecommunications Consultants India Limited (TCIL), a government of India enterprise, to participate in the programme. The Ambassador of Cote d'Ivoire signed the agreement in New Delhi on 15th June, while for Gambia it was signed by Her Excellency Ms. Neneh Macdouall-Gaye, Secretary of State for Communications, Information and Technology on 16th June in Addis Ababa. The Ambassador of Djibouti in Addis Ababa signed on behalf of his country on 21st June 2006 in the presence of Ambassador H.E. Mr. Gurjit Singh. With this, eleven countries in Africa have signed the agreements with the TCIL: Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cote d'Ivoire, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Mauritius, Tanzania, Senegal and Seychelles. Many other countries of Africa have expressed interest to participate in the programme.

The hub for the Network is to be located in Africa, for which Senegal, Mauritius and Ghana had submitted their proposals for hosting it to the African Union Commission. On the basis of recommendations made after detailed evaluation including visit by experts to the three countries, the Chairperson of the AU Commission has decided that it would be located in Senegal. Bids have also been received by the AU Commission to host the five Regional Leading Universities and five Regional Super Speciality Hospitals (SSHs) of the Network in Africa.

A high level Indian delegation had made a detailed presentation of the proposal in May 2005 to the Chairperson of the AU Commission and representatives of various Pan-African organizations in Addis Ababa. The Commission found the Indian proposal in line with the means and objectives of the African Union, with tremendous potential for achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) through use of innovative Information Communication Technology.

The Pan African e-Network Project is an initiative of H.E. Mr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, the President of India, to use the Indian expertise in information technology to bring benefits of healthcare and higher education to all countries of Africa, including in remote areas. He made this proposal and offer at the inaugural session of the Pan-African Parliament in Johannesburg on 16th September 2004. The Network will be connected by a satellite/fibre optical network to provide tele-medicine, tele-education and VVIP connectivity to these countries. The current total project cost is about US$ 105 million, which will be a total grant from the Government of India. The Ministry of External Affairs, New Delhi is responsible for the project, while the TCIL is the implementing agency. Each country of Africa is required to sign a Country Agreement with the TCIL to participate in this project.

The Network will consist of 5 regional universities, 53 learning centers, 5 regional Super Speciality Hospitals and 53 remote hospitals in all countries of Africa. There will be 6 universities and 5 Super Speciality Hospitals from India linked into the Network. The six Indian educational institutions include the Indian Institutes of Science, Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), Universities of Madras, Mumbai and Calcutta, and the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs). The Indian government has already provided a list of courses offered by these six institutions to the AU Commission, which range from Diploma level to the Post-Graduate studies in different disciplines and can be chosen by each country in accordance with its priorities and national education strategy. The tele-medicine connectivity will enable the SSHs to provide expert services to the 53 remote hospitals that are equipped with the required medical equipments like ECG, ultrasound, pathology and X-ray at each location. India will also provide tele-medicine facility at the AU Medical Centre in Addis Ababa.

Ethiopia will be the first beneficiary of the project in Africa, for which a pilot project is already in an advanced stage of implementation. The nodal centers for tele-education and tele-medicine will be located at the Addis Ababa University and the Black Lion Hospital respectively, with remote centers at Alemaya University and Nekempt Hospital. It is intended to start the tele-education component of the project in Ethiopia in July 2006. The cost of the pilot project for Ethiopia is US$ 2.13 million, which will come fully as a grant from India.

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