DRC builds 34 000 km fibre optic cable network

By Issa Sikiti da Slva, in Kinshasa, DR Congo

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is currently building a 34 000 km fibre optic cable network that will connect the whole country to the Muanda landing station, and improve internet penetration and connectivity.

Internet penetration rate and fixed telephone rate in this war-hit Central African nation is about 2.3% and 0.1%, respectively, but the government is hoping that the network will connect every bank, hospital, university, and various homes and offices across cities and villages to position the country as a digital hub in the sub-region.

The 34 000 km-long network, which will reach the Katanga Province near the Zambia border, will have to generate atleast 12 interconnections to link up with the country’s nine neighbours, Kin-Kiey Mulumba, Minister of Posts, Telecoms and ICTs, said.

Mulumba said the goal of building a network of such magnitude was to generate wealth, without saying how much the fibre optic infrastructure will supply to the state’s coffers every year.

However, a government source told Biztechafrica this week that the fibre optic landing station and its network is set to generate about US$15 million every month.

The cost of the project has also not been disclosed - a tradition in this ‘chaotic’ nation where financial mismanagement and the lack of transparency and accountability are widespread.

Technology analyst Jean-Albert Longange told Biztechafrica that although unreformed and unregulated for decades, the telecoms sector was finally moving in the right direction.

Longange said the fibre optic network will also help the process of digital broadcasting move forward, facilitate the proposed projects of e-agriculture and enhance ICT in education.

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