U.S. Embassy Kabul has awarded USD 3.1 million to support NATO's "SILK-Afghanistan" program, which provides high-speed Internet access to more than 9,000 students and teachers at Afghan universities in seven provinces (Baghlan, Faryab, Ghazni, Helmand, Kunduz, Paktia and Parvan). The program will also enhance existing bandwidth for 28,000 students and lecturers at five major Afghan universities over the next three years at a daily cost of less than eight cents per student.
The SILK-Afghanistan program is improving higher education and developing Afghan capacity, especially in the fields of information and communication technology, vital components of any growing economy.
Seven universities were identified as the first beneficiaries of this expansion project: Bamiyan, Herat, Jalalabad, Kandahar, Khost, Mazar-e-Sharif and Sheberghan, enabling them to access the Internet and other educational and research networks. Kabul University and the Government Media and Information Center in Kabul are already served through the program.
Named after the Great Silk Road trading route linking Asia and Europe, the NATO Virtual Silk Highway (SILK) project was initiated in 2002 under the NATO Science for Peace and Security (SPS) Program. Over the past seven years, the program has provided affordable high-speed Internet access via satellite to academic communities in the Caucasus and Central Asian countries. Kabul University joined the program in 2006.
The project, which is a partnership with the Afghan Ministry of Higher Education, kicked off on October 1, 2010, and is scheduled to run through September 2013.