External affairs minister SM Krishna has urged countries from the African continent to take advantage of the gains made by India in the fields of tele-education and tele-medicine. Inaugurating the second phase of the Pan-African e-Network Project recently in New Delhi,external affairs minister said the project was one of the finest examples of the growing partnership between India and Africa. This is the biggest project of distance education and tele-medicine ever undertaken in Africa.
The 12 countries that are part of the project include Botswana,Burundi,Cote d Ivoire,Djibouti,Egypt,Eritrea,Libya,Malawi,Mozambique,Somalia,Uganda and Zambia. The project is equipped to support e-governance,e-commerce,infotainment,resource mapping and meteorological and other services in the African countries,besides providing VVIP connectivity through a highly secure closed satellite network.
A total of 47-countries have already joined the project. The network already covers 34-countries and the remaining would be progressively brought within its scope. The first phase of the Pan-African e-Network Project was inaugurated in February 2009 in respect of 11 countries by the then external affairs minister.
The basic objective of the Pan-African e-Network project is to assist Africa in capacity building by way of imparting quality education to 10,000 students in Africa over a 5-year period in various disciplines from some of the best universities/educational institutions in India. Besides,this would provide tele-medicine services by way of online medical consultation to the medical practioners at the patient end location in Africa by Indian medical specialists in various disciplines/specialties selected by African Union for its member states.
The Pan African e-Network Project was conceived by former President APJ Abdul Kalam and approved by the Cabinet in July,2007 at a budgeted cost of Rs 542.90 crore ($ 125 million) which covers the cost of supply,installation,testing and commissioning of hardware and software,end-to-end connectivity,satellite bandwidth,O&M support,and providing the tele-education and tele-medicine services to 53 African countries for 5-years.
The external affairs ministry is the nodal ministry for the project while Telecommunications Consultants India Ltd (TCIL) is implementing the project on a turnkey basis.
Regular tele-medicine and tele-education services have already been started on this network. Currently,the tele-medicine consultations are regularly being conducted from super-specialty hospitals in India to the African countries as per need. Moreover,regular continued medical education (CME) sessions have been started with effect from April 22,2009 from 11 Indian super-specialty hospitals. So far 654 CME sessions have been conducted on this network.