Friday, February 14, 2014
How ICT infrastructure has improved in Afghanistan?
“Afghanistan, much like its neighbor Pakistan, has narrowed the digital divide with the West over the past decade by riding the global wave of cheaper mobile phone technology”. http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/02/11/ to-see-the-progress-in-afghanistan-stop-viewing-the-country-through-a-western-lens.html
After collapse of Taliban Regime, ICT infrastructure has significantly improved in Afghanistan. Government policies and private sector investments and high market demand from the public, are amongst the key drivers of ICT development in Afghanistan.
ICT infrastructure development has been one of the main priorities of Government since early 2003. Creation of strategic vision for ICT, establishment of enabling environment for private sector investment and development of laws and regulations are among the most effective government efforts towards ICT infrastructure. Key achievements in the last ten years include:
Expanded Mobile Services Coverage
Before 2003 only 15000 landline phones were available in the country. People had to travel to Kabul, Afghanistan Capital, or one of neighboring countries to make a call oversees. Today almost 86% of the country’s residential areas are covered by Mobile Telephone Services and the government aims to increase the coverage to 95% by end of 2014 (Ministry of ICT). By end of 2013 number of mobile subscribers across the country reached to 20 Million (USAID). Development of infrastructure has caused dramatic decrease in the cost of national and international calls. national calls has decreased from 20 Afghani (40 cents) to 2 Afghani ( 4 cents) and international call has decreased from $ 1.5 to 10 cents.
Currently there are 50 Internet Service Providers (ISPs) across the country that provide internet access to 2 million people (8% of total population) and the trend is increasing rapidly as the internet cost is decreasing constantly. The internet cost has decreased from $5000/1MB/month in 2002 to $97/1MB/month in 2013. Extension of the Fiber Optic Network (FON) in 14 major cities has caused the significant reduction in the internet cost. Government is planning to connect the remaining 20 provinces to FON by end of 2015. FON provides high speed internet with lower cost to people. In addition 3G services are provided by 5 Mobile Phone Companies and they cover 85% of the population.
AFGHANSAT1(Satellite)Afghanistan has got its specific slot in the orbit and has recently (January, 14) signed an agreement with Eutelsat Communications (NYSE Euronext Paris: ETL) to place an in-orbit satellite to deliver full national coverage. The satellite is named AFGHANSAT 1. According to Ministry of Communication and Information Technology “AFGHANSAT 1 will support a wide range of services including broadcasting, mobile telephony backhaul and IP connectivity. AFGHANSAT 1 will provide access to ICT services to Afghans in currently un-served areas and support the transformation of Afghanistan in a digital society’’. END