Liquid Intelligent Technologies and Facebook plan to build a metro fibre network in the Democratic Republic of Congo to connect East and West Africa by land.
Though they are yet to reveal when the construction of the network will commence, the two partners are hoping to connect more than 30 million people to the internet, once the 2,000km network is finished.
The network will create a digital corridor from the Atlantic Ocean through the Congo Rainforest to East Africa, and onto the Indian Ocean. Liquid Technologies has been working on the digital corridor for more than two years, which now reaches Central DRC.
This corridor will connect DRC to its neighbouring countries including Angola, the Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia. The new build will stretch from Central DRC to the eastern border with Rwanda.
DRC is the last frontier in broadband connectivity between East, Central and West Africa regions.
The Liquid project is coming at a time when Tanzania’s ministry of Communication, Science and Technology is finalising a feasibility study to extend its fibre broadband backbone to the DRC through Lake Tanganyika for a complete inter-regional digital communication network.
Communications Minister Dr Faustine Ndugulile said in a ministerial report recently that the connection to the DRC is long overdue, with the country’s application to join the EAC bloc having been endorsed.
The Liquid project will employ 5,000 Congolese. Given the high levels of insecurity in this part of the country, both Facebook and Liquid Tech have noted that it is a risky undertaking but also crucial to the extension of broadband access where demand for internet is growing.
“This is one of the most difficult fibre builds ever undertaken, crossing more than 2,000 kilometres of some of the most challenging terrains in the world,” said Nic Rudnick, group CEO of Liquid Intelligent Technologies.
Facebook will come in as an investor offering network planning support, while Liquid Technologies will own, build and operate the fibre network, and provide wholesale services to mobile network operators and internet service providers.
The deal will make Facebook one of the largest investors of fibre networks in Central Africa. – The East African
Additional reporting by Apolinari Tairo