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 Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), which they say could improve internet access for more than 30m people.
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.
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.
The new DRC fibre network will be part of a digital corridor from the Atlantic Ocean through the Congo Rainforest to East Africa and onto the Indian Ocean that Liquid Technologies has been working on for more than two years. It will connect DRC to neighbouring countries including Angola, Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia.
Bridging connectivity gaps
“This is one of the most difficult fibre builds ever undertaken, crossing more than 2,000km 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.”
Liquid Technologies predicts that it will employ more than 5,000 people from local communities to build the fibre network. The company is currently active in over 20 African countries.
“This fibre build with Liquid Technologies is one of the most exciting projects we have worked on,” said Ibrahima Ba, director of network investments for emerging markets at Facebook.
“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.”
According to 2017 data from the World Bank, the most recent available, just 8.62% of the DRC’s population are internet users.