KETRACO, Liquid Telecom deal to extend internet to rural East Africa
By Victor Magunamu, Kenya
Kenya Electricity Transmission Company (Ketraco) and Liquid Telecom have signed an agreement to extend affordable internet to Somalia, Ethiopia and Uganda.
Liquid Telecom will lease Ketraco's electricity transmission lines to carry internet traffic from the undersea cables that terminate at the port of Mombasa to the rest of East Africa.
The partnership aims to provide connectivity to Somalia and Ethiopia by early 2019.
“Our part is to bring equipment to commercialize the services. We want to connect the existing 2000 kilometres of Ketraco fibre to our over 1,000 plus fibre network to deliver reliable internet,” said, Adil Youssefi, Liquid Telecom Kenya CEO.
Liquid Telecom plans to invest at least $7 million (Sh700 million) to commercialise the electricity transmission lines.
Under the fifteen-year agreement, Ketraco will retain 60 percent of the revenues collected, with Liquid Telecom retaining 40 percent. Liquid Telecom will energise 1,500 km of Ketraco electricity lines.
Ketraco runs an electricity transmission grid of 2,315 kilometres and is poised to cover 8,000 kilometres of high voltage transmission lines with concurrent fibre connectivity.
‘’To maximise on the efficiency of this infrastructure, there could have been no better firm for the Company to partner with than Liquid Telecom,’’ Ketraco chairman James Rege said.
He said that Liquid Telecom will manage the fibre optic component of our transmission network for the next 15 years.
Better connectivity is expected to facilitate growth of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and strengthen security surveillance within the region.
‘’With KETRACO and Liquid telecom’s partnership, this is how our future will look. More villages and individuals will have access to faster, cheaper broadband to make them succeed in the digital economy,’’ Rege said.
He regretted that a bigger of population is still left in the dark sunset of low or no internet connectivity, saying that for every Kenyan to enjoy the bright sunlight of internet opportunities, rural areas must be opened up to the 21st century realities.
‘’By providing Kenyans with access to knowledge and potential markets, networks get formed and through these networks, life-changing opportunities can be created where none existed’’.