Liquid Intelligent Technologies announces a partnership with Facebook to build an extensive long-haul and metro fibre network in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Facebook will invest in the fibre and support network planning while Liquid Intelligent Technologies on the other hand will own, build, operate the fibre network, and provide wholesale services to telecommunication companies and ISPs.
The new build will stretch from Central DRC to the Eastern border with Rwanda and extend the reach of 2Africa, a major undersea cable that will land along both the East and West African coasts, and better connect Africa to the Middle East and Europe.
Nic Rudnick, Group CEO of Liquid Intelligent Technologies in a press statement, said, “This is one of the most difficult fibre builds ever undertaken, crossing more than 2,000KMs of some of the most challenging terrain in the world.”
Ibrahima Ba, Director of Network Investments, Emerging Markets at Facebook, and agreed to Rudnick and said “Deploying fibre in this region is not easy, but it is a crucial part of extending broadband access to under-connected areas. We look forward to seeing how our fibre build will help increase the availability and improve the affordability of high-quality internet in DRC.”
Rudnick noted that they have a common mission with Facebook to provide affordable infrastructure to bridge connectivity gaps across Africa.
Building the fibre is expected to improve internet access for more than 30 million people and help meet the growing demand for regional connectivity across Central Africa. This will introduce fibre connections to several cities between Kinshasa and Lubumbashi for the first time. A shift from mobile to fibre connectivity will enable a significant increase in bandwidth. In turn, as mobile operators upgrade their networks, this should increase the availability of high-speed internet.
The network will also help create a digital corridor from the Atlantic Ocean through the Congo Rainforest to East Africa, and onto the Indian Ocean. The corridor will connect DRC to its neighboring countries including Angola, Congo Brazzaville, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia.
To build the fibre network, Liquid Intelligent Technologies says it will employ more than 5,000 people from local communities.
Internet Penetration in DRC
According to a report done by Data Reportal, internet penetration in the Democratic Republic of the Congo as of January 2020 stood at 19%. According to the report, there were 16.35 million internet users in the country with the number of internet users increasing by 9.0 million (+122%) between 2019 and 2020.
There were 35.13 million mobile connections in January 2020. Mobile connectivity increased by 1 million (+3.1%) between January 2019 and January 2020 translating to 40% of the total population connected and 60% still does not have a mobile connection via the internet.
The country still lags behind in mobile connectivity compared to almost all other countries in sub-Saharan Africa. As a percentage of average income, the price of data ranks among the most expensive in the world – the DRC ranks 28th out of 29 African countries on the latest affordability index developed by the Alliance for Affordable Internet.