As part of a $300 million West Africa Regional Communications Infrastructure Programme (WARCIP) that aims to bring connectivity to the 16 West African countries and beyond, the World Bank has approved $30 million each for Togo and Mauritania to introduce legal and regulatory reforms to promote robust private sector competition.
The money, allocated via the bank's International Development Association, is also meant to strengthen telecommunications connectivity through expansion of fiber-optic broadband networks.
The WARCIP Project takes an integrated approach to promoting connectivity that involves the connection of member countries to the international broadband fiber optic network. It supports the creation of a national telecommunications backbones and provides technical assistance to strengthen institutions within the telecom sector. It is supposed to increase access to Internet services and reduce the cost of access and services in each country.
With the lowest Internet penetration rates on the continent (about 3 percent each), both Togo and Mauritania need to improve Internet access.
The main objectives of the second phase of the project, of which the $30 million allocation is part, are to deepen economic recovery and promote sustainable development; support economic governance and transparency; and address urgent poverty reduction and social needs.
World Bank Director for Regional Integration Colin Bruce said in a press release that the organization wants to harness "Africa's ongoing ICT revolution to address the development challenges confronting West African states. High capacity, reliable, regional broadband networks can enable communications, commerce and trade in services across borders. It is the cornerstone of developing a modern regional economic zone in West Africa."