A group of African countries have entered into a partnership with India to invest $1bn in the Pan-African e-Network satellite project, a joint initiative with the Africa Union aimed at developing the region's ICT infrastructure.
The African Union last year entered into an agreement that calls for the Indian government to supply funds for the project. The Indian government will finance the project over a period of five years through a grant to the African Union. Ethiopia for example, has been given a grant of $213 Million from India for the project. So far, 27 African countries have signed agreements for the project, designed to connect African countries by satellite and fibre-optic network. The project will include installation of Very Small Aperture Technologies (VSATs) to carry VoIP communication. The VSATs will be used for online education and telemedicine programmes expected to extend ICT infrastructure to rural areas and other underserved communities. In order to participate in the e-network project, African countries must sign agreements with Telecommunications Consultants India, a government enterprise. The Pan-African e-Network project was first announced by former Indian president Abdul Kalam in 2004.