India launches phase-II of African e-network project Conceptualized on the vision of former Indian President Dr. A P J Abdul Kalam of connecting India with all the 53 countries of the African Union with a satellite and fibre optic network for sharing India’s expertise in education and health care, the project is being implemented in 47 African countries, of which actual commissioning has been completed in 34 countries.

Union Minister for External Affairs S.M. Krishna, while talking to senior ministers of 12 African countries via videoconference, spoke about the significance India attaches to developing multi-faceted and enduring partnership with the African continent. Speaking after the launch of the e-network in front of African ambassadors, Mr. Krishna said the pan-African e-Network project is one of the finest examples of the growing partnership between India and Africa “I understand that this is the biggest project of distance education and tele-medicine ever undertaken in Africa,” said Mr. Krishna. “Under this Project we have made available the facilities and expertise of some of the best universities and super-specialty hospitals in India to the people of Africa.”

The project is also equipped to support e-governance, e-commerce, infotainment, resource mapping and meteorological and other services in the African countries, besides providing VVIP connectivity among the Heads of State of the African countries through a highly secure closed satellite network,” he said. “I am happy to learn that more than 1700 students from several African countries have already registered with the Indian universities for the various courses being offered by them under the tele-education component of the Project,” he added. “Regular tele-medical consultations have also started between the African doctors and the Indian specialists through this network. Likewise, nearly 700 CME lectures have been held delivered by our doctors from the Indian Super Specialty hospitals,” he further stated.

Taking into account the enthusiastic and encouraging response from our African partners, Mr. Krishna said: “We have decided to offer training at the regional level by conducting workshops in the tele-medicine and tele-education modules for the benefit of African participants to facilitate better utilization of different aspects of this Project. I am confident that at the end, both sides would find themselves enriched through mutual exchanges and interactions.” The e-network aims to bridge the digital divide across the 53-nation African continent and seeks to provide tele-medicine and tele-education through a fibre-optic network. India has signed agreement with 47 countries in Africa, but the infrastructure has been completed in 34 of them.

Mr. Krishna said that it was a matter of deep satisfaction that “the Pan-African e-Network Project has been conferred with ‘The Hermes Prize for Innovation 2010’ by the European Institute for Creative Studies and Innovation for its contribution in the field of sustainable development.” The seven Indian educational institutions associated with the project are Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, Amity University, University of Madras, Indira Gandhi National Open University, Birla Institute of Technology and Science, University of Delhi and Indian Institute of Technology-Kanpur.

Under the project, tele-medicine patient-end locations have been set up in 11 Indian super specialty hospitals. These have been connected to 33 patient-end hospitals in Africa. Regular tele-medicine consultations have already started in some of the countries. Burundi, Ivory Coast, Djibouti, Eritrea, Libya, Malawi, Mozambique, Somalia and Uganda were among other countries that formally joined the network. The 11 countries included in the first phase of the project launched last year were Benin, Burkina Faso, Gabon, the Gambia, Ghana, Ethiopia, Mauritius, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal and Seychelles.