NATO has taken a decision last year to launch a new internet program for high education in Afghanistan. We are building this new project, which we call “SILK/Afghanistan.” We had launched this successful project 8 years ago. At that time, it was meant to be for Caucasus countries and 5 central Asian partner countries of NATO.
Now, we are in the process of have launched a new project, which officialy started on the 1st of January. We will continue to provide internet connectivity for the metropolitan area network, which we are set up in Kabul city. At the moment this includes 15 academic and governmental institutions. The main aim of new project “SILK/Afghanistan” is now to go out to the provinces; improve the internet connectivity of the universities in the provinces.
To train the IT professionals at the universities for the network management and handling of their daily duties. We are making grounds of to improve the hardware, the networks at the universities. We are also offering these education courses which Western universities and the World Bank are ready to deliver to improve the high education assistant of Afghanistan in particular.
turk-internet.com: We heard that you are training Afghan soldiers with advanced IT technologies including hacking techniqs. Is that true?
Dr. Walter Kaffenberger: No, we are not training soldiers at this point. During these days in Turkey, we have a group of 18 mostly young IT professionals from the universities and the ministry of High Education and the very important institution which has been set up in Kabul which is the government and the media information centre where the journalists meet and receive the information. This our current constituency and this is also constituency we intend to educate furtherwith the help of TUBTAK where 7 days training in cybersecurity has just been completed. And we are luck to be able to stage a graduation ceremony in the marches of this SPS(?) information day today here in the Istanbul Technical University today. So, we are not training soldiers, but we are training young academics students, young professionals from the universities and other governmental organisations.
turk-internet.com: You said that you are trying to send broadband out to the provinces. But, do Afghanies have enough hardware the use them? Do you have any projects to give some computers to people of Afghanistan?
Dr. Walter Kaffenberger: Part of the improvement of the infrastructure the building of the networks we also providing desktops. But, desktops are normally not so much to shortage. There are other players like Kabul Polytechniqs University. The government of Korea has already donated some years ago quite a good number of desktops. The problem is the international connectivity and these computers are simply not connected in a network. This is our strenghths and this is where we are working. Mostly making use of already existing hardware which we then connect in the network and for which we provide international connectivity.
turk-internet.com: Do you afraid of Taliban to destroy the internet infrastructure over there back in Afghanistan?
Dr. Walter Kaffenberger: Yes, it is certainly a concern for me. After all, we are setting up 80 dishes in all of the universities in the provinces and as we have done in Kabul. These 80 dish, you can think of making a good target to shoot at. So, its certainly a concern. So far, we have been lucky and haven’t had any incident. We certainly hope that it will continue like this.
turk-internet.com: Can you please tell us briefly about the “SILK/Afghanistan”?
Dr. Walter Kaffenberger: NATO had launched this project “SILK/Afghanistan”, which got its name from that historical Silk Road, in 2002. The Science for Peace and Security Section of NATO is aiming to establish a secured connection Afghanistan into Europe. As much as the project has a siber security part, it could also be used providing help to Afghanistan which is in the centre of earthquake territory. Providing broadband internet connectivity to the outskirts of metropolitan areas is one of the priorities of the SILK/Afghanistan Project.