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New Telecoms Link Planned from the Atlantic Ocean through the Congo Rainforest to East Africa, And Telcos Attract Investment

UK-based Liquid Intelligent Technologies and US social media giant Facebook are to collaborate on an extensive long-haul and metro fibre network in the DRC, which they say could improve internet access for more than 30m people. It will connect DRC to neighbouring countries including Angola, Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia. The project will stretch from central DRC to the eastern border with Rwanda and extend the reach of Facebook’s 2Africa, a major undersea cable stretching over 37,000km that will land along both the East and West African coasts and connect at least 23 countries in Africa, the Middle East and Europe. Facebook will invest in the fibre build and support network planning, while Liquid Technologies will own, build and operate the fibre network and provide wholesale services to mobile network operators and internet service providers.

However, not all is well under the sea – scientists are reporting what they say is the longest sediment avalanche yet measured in action. It occurred underwater off West Africa, in a deep canyon leading away from the mouth of the Congo River in January. Something in excess of a cubic kilometre of sand and mud descended into the deep. This colossal flow kept moving for 2 days and ran out for more than 1,100km across the floor of the Atlantic Ocean. The event would have gone unrecorded were it not for the fact that the slide broke 2 submarine telecommunications cables, slowing the internet and other data traffic between Nigeria and SA in the process.

Pan-African fibre internet and cloud computing company, Liquid Intelligent Technologies, cross-regional mobile operator Africell, and mobile operator Safaricom are the most notable African tech and telecom operators that have recently secured international financing rounds. Kenya’s Safaricom, backed by a $500 million investment from the United States’ Development Finance Corporation (DFC), is fronting a consortium that will build a new mobile network in Ethiopia, the most populous country in east Africa. US-owned Africell, which has 12 million mobile subscribers in countries such as Gambia, Uganda, DRC and Sierra Leone, this week secured a $105 million loan facility from a group of financiers led by Gemcorp. Part of this capital is expected to be used to build its new mobile network in Angola, a key African market that is keen to build up its fintech sector.


Alastair Tempest

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