COMTEL Project Under Intense Scrutiny

Lusaka- Zambia (PANA) -- Top officials at the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) secretariat in Lusaka Friday entered the fifth day of discussions with executives of a Zimbabwean company over the creation of a regional communication link.
Sources close to the meeting say the negotiations could extend into the weekend if no satisfactory agreement is reached by Friday afternoon.
COMESA, which has members stretching from Zimbabwe to Egypt and from Angola to Mauritius, is presently working towards a common telecommunication telephone, fax and computer Internet connection.
The COMESA management team has been under discussion with executives from Tele Access Global Technology of Zimbabwe to work out modalities of how the regional telecommunication project, known commonly as COMTEL, is to be implemented.
The COMTEL project, whose actual cost is now under discussion, will involve national telecommunication operators who will have a 30 percent shareholding stake in the project.
A COMESA official explained that the COMTEL project, which will be handled by the information and networking division of the trading block's secretariat, aims at harmonising telecommunications connectivity in the region.
COMTEL is itself an acronym for COMESA Telecommunications Company which has been tasked to build an asynchronous transmission mode (ATM) system that will link national systems together.
National telecommunication authorities will be asked to rebuild their own infrastructure so that they become reliable, efficient and cost effective as soon as COMTEL is ready to take off, the official said.
He further noted that at the moment, the regional telecommunications network for the COMESA trading block is still very poor, expensive to use and highly inefficient and inadequate to support greater integration and frequent use.

20 juillet 2001 13:23:00

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