The World Bank yesterday launched a regional initiative to improve broadband connectivity in the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region, by optimising fiber optic networks for broadband use.
According to the bank, their new focus looks at citizen participation in creating information and communication technologies (ICT) solutions to development problems. This follows the success of the Cairo Water Hackathon.
The World Bank’s broadband connectivity initiative will study the potential for developing regional broadband backbone networks in MENA. Their new approach will leverage other utilities’ deployed infrastructure such as electricity, transport, oil and gas.
The study is expected to tackle the main bottlenecks to the region’s broadband connectivity, especially in providing redundancy to existing international connectivity, and opening alternative backbone networks in domestic markets.
“Worldwide, broadband is becoming essential for innovation, economic growth, and competitiveness,” Doyle Gallegos, Practice Leader at Financing ICT for Development for the World Bank, said. “This World Bank initiative will help increase MENA countries’ capacity to cope with the tremendous predicted increase in broadband traffic and to compete in the 21st century’s global market.”
The MENA region has been actively increasing broadband connections. Broadband traffic is predicted to grow over 100% in the next five years, making it the world’s fastest growing region alongside Sub-Saharan Africa.
The World Bank study will cover the region’s international and domestic connectivity, producing four national case studies focusing on Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia.
Additionally, the World Bank will look at broadband-based applications to increase utilities’ operational efficiency and competitiveness, starting with a smart-grid pilot project in Jordan. Findings will be shared through regional workshops aimed at boosting investment in the region, particularly in utilities’ fiber-optic networks.