(Ecofin Agency) - The government of Burkina Faso unveiled a plan to make ICT a tool for the security of its population. To handle the growing criminality in the country, it has called on China to help in this task.
“SMART Burkina” - launched last July 8 by Prime Minister Christophe Joseph Marie Dabiré- is the name of the project designed to interconnect all Burkinabe cities via an 800 km optical fiber network; 900 surveillance cameras will also be installed in Ouagadougou and Bobo-Dioulasso.
Valued at CFA52 billion ($94 million), of which nearly CFA47 billion is a loan from Eximbank of China and nearly CFA102 million is Burkina Faso's contribution, the project is expected to be a barrier to organized crime and insecurity.
Smart Burkina "is a technical and operational tool for coordination and command for the benefit of internal security forces. It is video protection and professional radio communication system combining image and voice to give more chance and success to security operations," Maxime Koné, the Minister of Internal Security, said adding that it is one of the flagship actions of the government to fight "effectively against the growing crime" in Burkina Faso.
In its Burkina Faso 2020 Crime & Safety Report, the U.S. Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) estimates that Ouagadougou experienced an increase in armed robberies in 2019. Street crime (particularly pickpocketing, bag snatching, and backpack theft) is rampant in major cities. Thieves mainly target mobile phones, jewelry, laptops, money, and other valuable items.
According to Christophe Joseph Marie Dabiré, the technologies installed by Burkina Faso are not intended "to spy on the population, but rather to strengthen the skills of our security and defense forces. Chinese companies Huawei and CITCC (China International Telecommunication Construction Corporation) are in charge of implementing the project.