India launches Pan-African e-network project
India's ambitious e-network project, linking leading universities and hospitals in this country with their counterparts in 11 African nations via satellite, was inaugurated Thursday evening by External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, who termed it a "shining example of South-South cooperation".
Mukherjee inaugurated the Pan-African e-network with a brief video-conference call with his counterparts in 11 African countries - Ethiopia, Senegal, Seychelles, Benin, Gabon, The Gambia, Mauritius, Nigeria, Rwanda, Ghana and Burkina Faso.
These countries are part of the first phase of the project, which is likely to be expanded to interlink the offices of the heads of state of the 53 African countries. The second and third phase will see the addition of 18 more countries by the end of June.
Describing the project as a "shining example of South-South Cooperation", Mukherjee said India has gifted a dedicated satellite for e-connectivity in sub-Saharan Africa to help bridge the digital divide.
He said as part of the pilot project, 34 Ethiopian students will graduate in June with an MBA degree from the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), without even leaving their country's borders.
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 IIT Kanpur.
Online medical consultation will be also provided for one hour every day to each participating African country for a period of five years in various medical disciplines.
Twelve leading Indian Super Specialty Hospitals are enlisted in the project. They include AIIMS, Escorts Heart institute, Care Hospital, Hyderabad and Narayan Hrudayaylaya, Bangalore.
The project, being implemented by state-run Telecommunications Consultants India Ltd. has a target of providing tele-education services to 10,00 African students in different courses.
Former president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam had first offered the proposal five years ago when he addressed the inaugural session of the Pan-African Parliament in Johanessburg.
Since then, India has invested over $125 million in the project.