The East African Community (EAC) Secretary General, Amb. Liberat Mfumukeko has called on the Partner States to support both the private and public sector innovative projects that can help create an envisioned integrated and developed EAC closer to reality.
”I realized the urgency for East Africa to grasp the business opportunities offered by new technologies to create a competitive advantage for industries in our region,” he said.
The Secretary General was yesterday speaking during the opening session of Google Project Loon Workshop at the Ole Sereni Hotel in Nairobi,Kenya
He disclosed to the participants that the EAC had established the East African Science and Technology Commission; the East African Health Research Commission and the Inter-University Council of East Africa because it believes that education, mainly sciences and technology, as well as research are the foundation of any competitive economy.
He said that the EAC’s 5th Development Strategy covering the period 2017 to 2022, underscores the centrality of technology and industrialisation in the overall development of the Community as the cornerstone for regional development.
“It is an exciting time for EAC that the launch of the balloon anchored internet infrastructure by Loon targeting the under-served areas of the world makes its debut on the continent in the EAC Region”, he said, adding that: ”I assure Loon that the choice of EAC will undoubtedly anchor the Project on a positive growth and expansion trajectory on the African Continent.”
The official reiterated how critical the access to ICT in the EAC integration process underpinnings to unlock the growth and market potential for the region and contribute to equitable and sustainable development envisaged in the EAC’s Vision.
He appealed to the Partner States to embrace Google Project Loon and extend to it the support required to launch and operate in all the Partner States. “I thank Loon for choosing EAC as the launch pad for this clearly transformational Project”, he said.
Meanwhile, the EAC Secretary General on behalf of the Secretariat and Ms Anna Prouse, Google Project Loon Coordinator signed a Letter of Intent to deepen cooperation and collaborate in good faith on provision of access to internet for all East African citizens.
The two-day workshop is aimed at providing stakeholders in the East African Community with an overview of Project Loon and its benefits for the states in the region; share technical information on balloon operations including the safety of flights and landing; the operations compliance with international and national safety and security requirements and standards; and to seek engagement and support from the EAC States and stakeholders in providing necessary overflight and landing rights to Loon balloons for their operations in the region.
Nearly two-thirds of the world’s population do not have Internet access. There is no one single company or technology that is able to solve this issue alone as the barriers to access are many and varied: limited financial resources, lack of content relevancy, lack of language and digital literacy as well as limited or non-existent basic infrastructure.