EU-Funded Feasibility Study for Regional Broadband Infrastructure Development in Albania
The EU-funded technical assistance project to identify the needs, options, and financing structure of the construction of next generation broadband networks in Albania, was completed in July 2020. As a result, the Feasibility Study and Cost-Benefit Analysis have been developed for the Ministry of Infrastructure and Energy in the scope of the Government’s National Broadband plan 2013-2020.
Building on the results of a pre-feasibility study developed under the UNDP in 2017, the EU allocated a €520,000 grant through the WBIF for this feasibility study and development plan for efficient and smart investments in broadband infrastructure across the country. The study was implemented by IPF8 in a contract with the European Investment Bank (EIB) as the lead International Financing Institution supporting this project.
The currently completed technical assistance is a part of the EU supported project ‘Regional Broadband Infrastructure Development in Albania’ with a total estimated value of €48 million. EIB is contributing €24 m in loans, complementing the currently approved €1.2 m EU grants and national contribution of €4.8 m.
Deployment of broadband networks will provide several benefits to Albania leading to economic and social development by increasing business opportunities in public and private economic sectors alike. It will also provide digital connectivity between Albania and other countries in the region and the EU and improve social inclusion of all participants and communities while having a positive impact on governance, health, education, tourism, business undertaking and overall quality of life.
A techno-economic model was developed to calculate the cost to deploy and operate broadband networks in Albania, in four different scenarios, for which the cost estimate for rural and urban areas was prepared. The legal, regulatory and organizational frameworks in Albania were investigated and recommendations were made for improvement of the framework for the facilitation of the deployment of broadband networks throughout the country. The Cost-Benefit Analysis of the network deployed in Albania was performed for all 4 scenarios.
Different investment models were proposed for each technological scenario. An Active Layer Open business model with private Design-Build-Operate investment is recommended for 20 years, whereby public sector will be the owner of the network and private sector will be the operator. To enable that, among 4 different procurement strategies the one proposed incorporates: one beneficiary, multiple subprojects in multiple procurement phases. The period of implementation is foreseen as 5 years.
Ms Dorina Cinari, Deputy Minister of Infrastructure and Energy: ‘This was an excellent piece of work done through the excellent effort of all involved parties. We now know about the potential costs for the next generation broadband networks in Albania and are committed to their implementation. We have recently approved the new Broadband Development Plan for 2020-2025 in Albania, in which we used many of the conclusions and recommendations of this study.’
Mr Benoit Denis, EIB representative: ‘With the pandemic now understand the importance of digitalisation and what a major factor of resilience it has become and how much we will depend on it in health, economic, even social sectors. The EIB is at the core of the EU response to COVID-19 and we will continue working on similar projects and we are happy with the initiatives taken in Albania.’
Mr Andrea Vera, EUD Tirana Head of Operations: ‘This project represents an important step in the EU Digital Agenda launched in Sofia two years ago. Digitalisation is borderless. But while it is important to have a regional approach, at the same time the digital agenda plans to make sure that all citizens have increased connectivity, improved business climate, improved governance.’
More about the WBIF project ‘Regional Broadband Infrastructure Development in Albania’ here.
More about the WBIF activities in Albania here.
WBIF Factsheet on the Digital Infrastructure sector in Albanian language here.