The telecommunications backbone project will help link Afghan cities and provide connectivity to international cable facilities. The grant was signed in Kabul on March 17 by U.S. Ambassador Robert Finn, and Afghan Minister of Communications Mohammed Masoon Stanekzai.
Following is the text of the USTDA announcement.
USTDA GRANT SUPPORTS TELECOMMUNICATIONS
INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENT IN AFGHANISTAN
For Immediate Release
KABUL, AFGHANISTAN - (March 17, 2003) Earlier today, the U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) awarded a $280,081 grant to the Ministry of Communications (MoC) of Afghanistan to fund a feasibility study on a proposed telecommunications backbone project.
The grant was conferred in a signing ceremony at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul. U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Robert Finn signed the grant agreement on behalf of the U.S. Government and Afghanistan's Minister of Communications Mohammed Masoon Stanekzai signed on behalf of the grantee.
Afghanistan has made telecommunications a priority in achieving the nation's development and reconstruction goals. At present, Afghanistan has one of the weakest telecommunications systems in the world with only one out of every 625 Afghans having access to telephone services. This level is far below the developing country average of 2.6 lines per 100 people.
A critical project for restoring the productive capacity of the telecommunications sector in Afghanistan is the establishment of a national high-speed backbone network. The MoC proposes to build a 3300km backbone ring linking many principal Afghan cities. In addition, the backbone will provide connectivity to international cable facilities. The USTDA-funded study will assess the technical and financial feasibility of the MoC's telecommunications backbone project and will recommend options for its implementation.
The U.S. Trade and Development Agency advances economic development and U.S. commercial interests in developing and middle-income countries. The agency funds various forms of technical assistance, feasibility studies, training, orientation visits and business workshops that support the development of a modern infrastructure and a fair and open trading environment. USTDA's strategic use of foreign assistance funds to support sound investment policy and decision-making in host countries creates an enabling environment for trade, investment and sustainable economic development. In carrying out its mission, USTDA gives emphasis to economic sectors that may benefit from U.S. exports of goods and services.
(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)