Gabon, World Bank sign US$58 million-fibre optic agreement
By Issa Sikiti da Silva, Gabon
The oil-rich, Central African nation of Gabon and the World Bank have signed a US$58 million agreement that will clear the way for the construction of a major fibre optic infrastructure to link the country’s five provinces via broadband and cross over to the Republic of Congo.
The agreement, described as ‘historic and vital’ by many observers in the capital Libreville, will see the 1140 km-fibre optic African Coast Europe (ACE) be extended to link the cities of Franceville and Libreville, and run along the Transgabonnais railway network.
Besides, the network will interconnect Koulamoutou, Lastourville, Franceville, Bongoville, Lékoni,Moanda, Bakoumba and Lékoko, and cross the border to link with the Congo-Brazzaville fibre optic network.
“This is an historic agreement. Upon completion, the network could have a length of over 3 000 km,” college student Arsène Moundounga said in Libreville.
“Our country is changing for the best. I’m 100% sure that things will never be the same again and Gabon will be the best place where everybody will want to live and work in Africa,” he bragged.
Oil-rich and economically stable Gabon, ruled with iron-fist for more than five decades by the same family (the late Omar Bongo and currently by his son Ali Bongo), has always attracted thousands of African and European migrants who see it as some sort of an African Eldorado.
And building a telecommunication infrastructure of such magnitude will be the first step towards diversifying its economy, which has for decades relied too much on oil and gas.
As expected, a Chinese-owned company got the nod to build the network. The winner is ChinaCommunication Service International (CCSI), www.chinaccsi.com, a subsidiary of China Telecom Group, has a period of between three and four years to build the infrastructure.
CCSI has 18 representations in Africa. Its GM Ping Lai Lu said his company had the capacity and the experience to make this project a success and provide quality service for the development ofGabon’s ICT networks.