KABUL, AFGHANISTAN -- The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has begun an important $290,000 initiative to link the Afghan government in Kabul with its 31 provincial governments through a radio network. The project, which is a collaborative effort by USAID and Afghanistan's Ministry of Communications, will mean that for the first time in the country's history the central government will be able to communicate directly with all of the provinces - a major step in the stabilization of the country and an enormous benefit to the average Afghan citizen who will gain from a more efficient and better connected government.
USAID is providing the funding for the purchase of equipment and training of personnel and the Ministry of Communications is funding operations costs, including maintenance and repair in Kabul and the provinces. The equipment - consisting of "CODAN" radio sets - can send voice messages, e-mails and scanned documents. CODAN radio sets are advanced radio systems enhanced with sophisticated computer digital signals and additional handset hardware to make it operate similar to a telephone. The system will be connected to a local digital phone system and international phone/e-mail system in Kabul. With these sets Afghan President Hamid Karzai and other government officials will be able to contact all of the provinces, and for the first time the provinces will also have a reliable method of communicating with Kabul and each other.
"It is vitally important that the central government establish its connections with provincial authorities, and this project will greatly facilitate this," said Craig Buck, USAID's Afghanistan Mission Director. "It supports the central government's desire to extend its influence and work throughout the country."
The first phase of the project began in mid-December 2002 with the training and installation of radio sets in Kabul and the provinces of Khost, Paktia, Paktika, Bamyan, Nooristan and Kunduz. Two sets of equipment have been installed in the Ministry of Communications in Kabul, with three more - including a back-up set - to follow. The six initial provinces to receive the equipment were identified by the Afghan government as their highest priorities. Two of them - Paktika and Nooristan - have never been directly connected to Kabul before. The second phase of the project, slated to begin in early February, will install radio equipment in all remaining provinces. The third phase, marking the completion of the project, will inaugurate the new system.
"Three projects in Afghanistan so far have been very important for our national unity," said Mohammad Haneef Atmar, Rural Reconstruction and Development Minister in Afghanistan's government recently. "[These are] the new currency project, the establishment of a new army, and the CODAN radio communications project."
Contact: USAID Press Office
WASHINGTON, DC 20523