Barely two weeks before he demits office, the government on Thursday fulfilled a dream of President APJ Abdul Kalam by approving a pan-African e-network project proposed by him to bridge the digital divide in that continent.
The Union Cabinet, at a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, cleared the proposal to set up a Rs 542.90 crore project to link 53 countries of the African Union (AU).
"The project will showcase India's capability in the IT sector, technology, healthcare and education", Infomation and
Broadcasting Minister PR Dasmunsi told reporters, adding that the e-network would enable India share its expertise in healthcare and education with all member countries of the AU.
Kalam, who had visited South Africa in 2004, had proposed to connect all the 53 nations of Africa by satellite and fibre optic network during the inaugural session of the Pan-African Parliament held there.
The developmental project, Dasmunsi said, pertains to setting up of demonstration models in each country and its successful implementation was expected to enhance India's profile in the region and add a fresh dimension to the country's partnership with Africa.
An India-AU MoU for setting up the e-network was signed in 2005 after the Centre endorsed the project. Draft country agreements between each AU member nation and state-run TCIL were also signed.
So far, 23 countries have signed the model agreement with the TCIL, he added.