Afghanistan

USAID to fund development of Afghan telecommunications

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News and Press Release
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Satellite technology to open telephone, Internet access nationwide

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has granted $14.2 million to Afghanistan's Ministry of Communications to create a national telecommunications system connecting the central government with the country's 34 provinces and creating public access centers for Internet and telephone communications.

According to an August 16 press release from the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, the U.S. funding will launch Afghanistan's national district telecommunications project and will place a telecommunications link in each of its 357 districts over the next 14 months.

Using satellite technology, even more remote districts will have access to their own telecommunications centers, which will feature public-access telephones, Internet facilities and connections to key government offices.

"Nothing is more important than governments being able to communicate with their citizens," said U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad in the press release. "This network will not only benefit government officials, but Afghans in every district will be connected to what their leaders and government are doing and saying."

According to the press release, the telecommunications centers will be run by the private sector, initially creating 1000 jobs and eventually generating as many as 10,000 more as the new wireless technology spreads into surrounding areas.

Following is the text of the U.S. Embassy Kabul press release:

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Press Release
Office of Public Affairs
U.S. Embassy Kabul

For Immediate Release
Contact: Beth Lee

August 16, 2004
070-23-4553

U.S. Awards $14.2 Million to Afghan Government for National Telecommunications System

Kabul, Afghanistan - The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) awarded the Ministry of Communications $14.2 million for the District Communications Network (DCN) on Sunday, August 15 at Gulkhana Palace. U.S. Ambassador and Special Presidential Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, Minister of Communications Mohammad Masoom Stanekzai, and Minister of Interior Ali Jalali made the announcement.

This project will do two things: Satellite terminals will connect the central government to the 357 district offices throughout all 34 provinces, and it will create 357 public access telecenters-computers with internet access and telephones-in each district. Nothing is more important than governments being able to communicate with their citizens. This network will not only benefit government officials, but Afghans in every district will be connected to what their leaders and government are doing and saying," U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad said.

The funding will launch the national district telecommunications project and place a telecommunications link in Afghanistan's 357 districts over the next 14 months. The network will use satellite technology that will enable accessibility to remote areas. The equipment that will be installed in each district includes public-access telephones, Internet facilities and connections to key government offices. The public-access telephones and Internet services will be run by the private sector, creating an initial 1,000 jobs. These new wireless technologies will then reach into surrounding areas generating as many as 10,000 more jobs once the network is in place.

The telecom revolution "is changing the way citizens can hold the government accountable as never before," concluded Ambassador Khalilzad.

Phase I of this project will address 156 districts and will be completed in six months. The work in the remaining 201 districts will be finalized in the following eight months.

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(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)