Aftel and Nato expand fibre "silk road"

Nato to pump $975,000 into Afghan fibre programme
Map showing the planned sites to be connected by fibre.
Map showing the planned sites to be connected by fibre.


Afghan Telecom and Nato have signed a deal to start the second phase of the SILK-Afghanistan programme, which aims to provide high-speed internet access to Afghanistan’s universities and governmental institutions.

The deal will see Nato and other partners pump EUR 750,000 ($975,000) into fibre-optic communications infrastructure for four sites in Kabul and 13 sites in the provinces. A further five sites will continue to use the more costly option of satellite technology, though two of these are due to switch to fibre optics bwteen 2014 and 2015, according to a statement from Nato.

The SILK-Afghanistan programme, which is named after the Great Silk Road trading route linking Asia and Europe, is mainly funded by the Nato’s Science for Peace and Security (SPS) Programme and the US State Department with further financing from the European Commission. The Afghan government covers the costs of domestic traffic and the investment in fibre links from Aftel’s points of presence in the cities to the server rooms of universities.

The scheme, which aims to cut the reliance of universities and government offices on costly satellite connectivity, has already helped spread internet access to about 2 million people in Afghanistan.

The deal was signed last Thursday by Gul Ahmad Rastman, CEO, Aftel, and in Brussels by Nato’s financial controller, Stéphane Chagnot, and Javier Carrasco Pena, head of procurement at Nato. The contract signature was formally witnessed by the Afghan Minister for Higher Education and the Deputy Minister of Communications and IT Baryalai Hassam.

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