DRC capital awaits high speed internet
By Issa Sikiti da Silva, in Kinshasa, DR Congo
One year after the inauguration of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s fibre optic landing station and five months after the connection of underground cables across selected suburbs of the capital, many Kinshasa residents are yet to taste the high speed internet promised by the government.
The country’s fibre optic network, G652D, has a maximum capacity of 10Gbits per second, and has a length of 600 km running from Muanda to Kinshasa, the ministry of Posts, Telecommunications and ICTs said.
New internet cafés have opened across this fast-growing city of 10 million people in anticipation of the ‘revolution of modernism’, and signs that read in French, Connection sur Fibre Optique, have been posted inside and outside these outlets.
But the reality online is different.
“This ‘connection on fibre optic’ sign is misleading and has no impact because the reality is frustrating,” university student Noelle Makiadi Zola told Biztechafrica inside an internet café in Kinshasa, as disgruntled customers complained about the slow internet connection.
Back in March this year, ICT technicians were seen connecting hundreds of metres of underground cables in the suburbs of Limete, Kasa-Vubu and Lingwala, among others, to make the dream of high-speed internet a reality – as the government put it – but so far it looks like people appear to be waiting in vain.
“There is nothing I can do to help you because I’m offering you guys what the internet service provider is giving me,” an internet café attendant told a complaining customer in the suburb of Kasa-Vubu.
“What about the fibre optic connection?” the customer, Jean-Marie Mwangu, asked the attendant. “That’s all illusion, forget about it, I’ll believe it when I’ll see it,” the attendant replied.
In a country where the internet costs an arm and a leg, and its quality is poor and the telecommunication infrastructure lies in a dilapidated state, the internet connection via fibre optic is being eagerly awaited like a charming prince, with mobile operators also flexing their muscles to welcome the ‘monarch’.
Several mobile operators, including Tigo, Airtel, Orange, MTN Congo-Brazzaville, are already connected to the fibre optic network, the office of the Prime Minister said last week.
Early this month, Orange DRC signed a ‘historic’ deal with the Congolese government to ‘take control’ of the network, and offer its customers a high-speed internet connection.
Government-controlled SCPT, Société Congolaise des Postes et Telecommunications, is the sole custodian of the country’s fibre optic network.
The company said customers had two possibilities to benefit from the fibre optic network. They can do it via the cellphone operators, who will then connect to the SCPT, or, the second, directly from the fibre optic network itself.