corrpicDAILY NATION By Nation Reporter

Friday May 13, 2016

The World Economic Forum has chosen the northern corridor as the first region to test affordable internet in what is expected to speed up connecting landlocked markets to Mombasa port.

Public and private sectors will work together to build internet infrastructure linking the trade corridor that runs from Kenya’s seaport through Uganda, Rwanda, Ethiopia and South Sudan, it was announced in Kigali on Thursday.

It is estimated that up to 67 per cent or 75 million people living along the northern corridor do not have access to the internet.

“For us in East Africa, we expect the project to bring 25 million more citizens online by 2020,” said Rwanda’s Youth and ICT Minister Jean-Philbert Nsengimana.

The World Economic Forum will use the northern corridor as a pilot of its “internet for all” which seeks to connect up to four billion people worldwide.

A number of private companies are expected to provide infrastructure, develop content and train users.

It particularly targets sub-Saharan Africa, which has 150 million smart phones but low internet use due to high costs.

“The internet has become a pervasive, fundamental part of daily life, but low internet penetration significantly impacts Africa’s ability to participate in the digital economy,” said Mr Alex Wong, head of Global Challenge Partnerships and World Economic Forum executive committee member.

This comes almost two years after President Uhuru Kenyatta, Rwanda’s Paul Kagame and Uganda’s Museveni Yoweri launched the Northern Corridor Infrastructure Summit, which seeks to speed up infrastructure development.

The summit meets regularly to review progress and has lined up crude oil pipelines, roads and railways to link up their economies.

In Kigali, governmental and private sector pledged to support it which is seen as crucial to Africa’s digital transformation.

“There is no greater challenge to development than the digital divide,” said Ms Elaine Weidman-Grunewald, Ericsson’s vice-president in charge of corporate responsibility.

“We expect the northern corridor project to resolve the challenge of implementation,” she said.

China, one of the financiers, said it had chosen to put its money after its own work with internet in the last 25 years.

Vice Minister of Cyberspace Administration Wang Xiujun said high internet penetration would change Africa. “The internet for all project will enable Chinese firms to understand Africa and make more investments,” she said.

For Kenya, where telecoms infrastructure is concentrated in the southeast and west of the country, the forum is expected to open up new areas of economic activity, particularly in the remote no