Google to open offices in DR Congo

By Issa Sikiti da Silva

US technology giant Google will in the near future open offices in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and enter the country's high speed internet market.

This information was revealed this week by Tidjane Deme, Google Francophone Africa boss, after meeting with Thomas Luhaka, DRC Vice-Prime Minister in charge of posts, telecoms and ICTs.

The internet market in this vast, troubled Central African nation of 80 million people is still relatively untapped, as online users are struggling every day with slow, inconsistent connections provided by few internet service providers (ISPs). 

Senegalese-born Deme said Google intended to provide broadband connection services in the aim of supporting DRC’s economic development.

Deme, who said he and his colleagues were on an exploratory mission in Africa, also visited neighbour Congo Brazzaville, where he held talks with the country’s high level telecoms authorities. 

Google, like several Western ICT companies, has lately been conducting many ICT projects in Africa.

Google’s announcement has delighted many internet users and ICT professionals in this conflict-hit nation, which experts say has one of the worst internet connections and telecommunication infrastructure on the continent.

The World Bank said last year that it would provide US$92 million to the DRC to rehabilitate its dilapidated telecom infrastructure and build new ones.

Mobile and broadband internet and SMS remain suspended and social networks are still blocked three weeks after riots hit the country over a controversial electoral law critics say would have kept President Joseph Kabila in power beyond 2016.

It remains unclear whether the Google delegation raised the suspension of internet and SMS issue with the Congolese authorities.

There has been no official word from telecom operators and government would not budge despite industry watchers’ concern over the relatively modest economy losing US$20 million per day due to the cut.

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