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  India, in a joint initiative with the African Union, has launched the Pan-African e-network project, which will support tele-education, telemedicine, e-commerce, e-governance, infotainment, resource-mapping and meteorological services *

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Pan-African e-Network Project inaugurated by Hon`ble Shri Pranab Mukherjee, External Affairs Minister, Government of India
Source : TCIL
 

One more significant and shining chapter in the history of India-Africa relationship was added, when the Pan-African e-Network Project was inaugurated on 26th Feb 2009 by Hon`ble Shri Pranab Mukherjee, External Affairs Minister at the TCIL Bhawan in New Delhi, amidst the presence of High Commissioners and Ambassadors of African countries.

With the commissioning of the Pan-African e-Network Project, former president Dr. A P J Abdul Kalam vision of connecting India with all 53 countries of the African Union with a satellite and fibre optic network for sharing India`s expertise in education and health care, has been translated into reality.

Describing the Pan-African e-Network Project as a shining example of South-South Cooperation, the External Affairs Minister Shri Pranab Mukherjee said that under this project India has gifted a dedicated satellite hub for e-connectivity in Africa to help bridge the digital divide. The Project aims to create significant linkages for tele-education and tele-medicine, making available the facilities and expertise of some of the best universities and super-specialty hospitals in India to the people of Africa.

      The Minister added that 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 that thirty three countries have already joined this Project and more are expected to join in the course of the coming months. Eleven countries have been covered in the first phase where both the Learning Centres for tele-education and Patient-end Hospitals for tele-medicine are ready. These include: Benin, Burkina Faso, Gabon, The Gambia, Ghana, Ethiopia, Mauritius, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal and Seychelles.


      The External Affairs Minister assured that nine more countries namely Botswana, Burundi, Cameroon, Djibouti, Egypt, Malawi, Mozambique, Niger and Uganda would be covered in the second phase by March 2009. Another nine countries, namely Comoros, Cote Dvoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Tanzania, Togo and Zambia, would be covered by the network as part of Phase-III by 30th June 2009.


      The External Affairs Minister had a brief online interaction on bilateral matters with each of the eleven ministers individually through the network. While addressing the ministers and other dignitaries online in eleven countries where the network was inaugurated today, Shri Mukherjee exhorted the countries to take advantage of the full range of services offered by India. He also asked the remaining countries to join the project early.


      Citing the success of the Government of India pilot project on tele-education and tele-medicine in Ethiopia, as a precursor to this mega project, the Minister said that 34 Ethiopian students are pursuing MBA course from IGNOU since 2007 and would be completing their final semester in June 2009 which would entitle them to get the MBA degree from IGNOU without having to move away from their country.


      The Pan-African e-Network Project was approved by the Union Cabinet on 5th July 2007 at a budgeted cost of Rs. 542.90 crores which covers the cost of supply, installation, testing and commissioning of hardware and software, end-to-end connectivity, satellite bandwidth, O&M support, and providing the tele-education and tele-medicine services to 53 African countries for 5 years. The Ministry of External Affairs is the nodal ministry for the project while Telecommunications Consultants India Limited (TCIL) is implementing the project on a turnkey basis.


      The Project aims at providing tele-education services to 10,000 African students to undertake Post-Graduate, Under-Graduate, PG Diploma and Diploma and skill enabling certification courses in subjects such as Business Administration, IT, International Business, Tourism and Finance. The following seven leading universities and educational institutions of India have been associated with the Project: Amity University, Noida; University of Madras, Chennai; Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), New Delhi; Birla Institute of Technology and Science (BITS), Pilani; University of Delhi; IIT Kanpur and Indian Institute of Science (IISc.) Benguluru.


      As part of the tele-medicine services, online medical consultation will be provided for one hour every day to each participating African country for a period of 5 years in various medical disciplines such as cardiology, neurology, urology, pathology, oncology, gynecology, infectious diseases/HIV-AIDS, ophthalmology, pediatrics etc. Twelve leading Indian Super Specialty Hospitals have been associated with the Project. These are: Apollo Hospital and Sri Ram Chandra Medical College and Research Institute in Chennai; AIIMS, Escorts Heart Institute and Moolchand Hospital in New Delhi, Fortis Hospital in Noida, KEM Hospital in Mumbai, Care Hospital in Hyderabad, Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences, Kochi; Manipal Hospital and Narayan Hrudayaylaya, Benguluru and Santosh Hospital, Ghaziabad. With the commencement of the tele-medicine services, some of the best medical specialists of India would be available for consultations online for the African patients.


      Another important element of tele-medicine services is the Continuing Medical Education (CME) in various specialties which is intended to update the knowledge and upgrade the clinical skills of the practicing physicians and paramedical staff in the African countries.


      TCIL has established the network with a data centre in TCIL Bhawan, which acts as a gateway to the hub station in Dakar for connectivity of Indian institutions to the African sites.


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