Liquid Technologies, Facebook team up to construct fiber corridor in DRC

DRC – Africa’s largest fibre company Liquid Intelligent Technologies and Facebook have announced a partnership to build an extensive 2,000 kilometres long haul and metro fibre network in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The two companies say there is a growing demand for regional connectivity across Central Africa and the partnership is expected to improve internet access for over 30 million people.

According to the arrangement, Facebook will invest in the fibre build and support network planning and Liquid Technologies will own, build and operate the fibre network, and provide wholesale services to MNOs and ISPs.

The network will help create a digital corridor from the Atlantic Ocean through the Congo Rainforest, the second-largest rainforest after the Amazon, 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 and this corridor will connect DRC to its neighbouring countries including Angola, Congo Brazzaville, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia.

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.

Additionally, Liquid will employ more than 5,000 people from local communities to build the fibre network.

“This is one of the most difficult fibre builds ever undertaken, crossing more than 2,000 kilometres of some of the most challenging terrain in the world,” said Nic Rudnick, Group CEO of Liquid Intelligent Technologies.

“Liquid Technologies and Facebook have a common mission to provide affordable infrastructure to bridge connectivity gaps, and we believe our work together will have a tremendous impact on internet accessibility across the region.”

Ibrahima Ba, Director of Network Investments, Emerging Markets at Facebook said: “This fibre build with Liquid Technologies is one of the most exciting projects we have worked on.”

“We know that 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.”

The partnership comes after Liquid raised US$840 million in a bond and loans, as it sought to refinance debt and further expand into Africa.

The financing included a US$620 million bond and US$220 million in loans, making it one of the largest dollar bond sales by an African telecoms company.

The International Finance Corporation, which estimates the continent’s digital economy will be worth US$180 billion by 2025, invested US$100 million in the bond.

Liquid Telecom, majority owned by Econet Global Ltd., has built more than 70,000 kilometres of fibre and operates five data centres in Kenya, South Africa, and Rwanda.

According to the company, Africa’s current cloud computing capacity is three times less than that of London and it estimates that there is less than 20% of potential telecommunications enterprise demand being served in Africa.

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