Liquid Telecom announces UGX 2 billion investment in pan-Ugandan internet infrastructure
Liquid Telecom has announced UGX 2 bn of investment in its Ugandan subsidiary Infocom, to extend its pan African fibre cable infrastructure across Kampala’s Central Business District and to multiple rural towns across Uganda, including Mukono, Jinja, Masaka, and Mbarara.
“Fibre represents a completely superior quality of internet, in line with the advanced Internet offering from Infocom. Utilising Africa’s largest cable network to reach rural towns in Uganda, and to offer a world class service within Kampala’s CBD, is in line with our vision of fuelling the country’s accelerated economic growth,” said Mr Hans Haerdtle, Liquid Telecom’s Chief Technical Officer East Africa and CEO of Infocom.
The demand for data services is growing in Uganda at a time when data from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad) shows the country as leading the East African region in attracting FDI in 2013.
‘Our aim in investing so heavily in this new Ugandan internet infrastructure is to achieve better service delivery and improve the country’s internet penetration, which stands at 133rd position globally, with 16.2 per cent of Ugandans currently accessing the internet,” said Mr Haerdtle.
The continued expansion of Internet infrastructure in Uganda will impact positively in improving the country’s economic situation, he said. His remarks are echoed by the World Bank in its study ‘Building broadband: Strategies and policies for the developing world’, which notes that low-income and middle-income countries experienced about a 1.38 percentage point increase in GDP for each 10 per cent increase in broadband penetration. The World Bank further found that the development impact of broadband on emerging economies is greater than for high-income countries.
On this basis, Liquid Telecom has increased the number of Points of Presence (PoPs) for its top performance business-focused internet from 11, a year ago, to now 30, and upgraded all its existing PoPs. It is the only Internet Service Provider to have built a regional fibre ring –The East Africa Fibre Ring - and back up international links - that connects all of East Africa to each other and the rest of the world. This, along with its connections to all five undersea fibre cables, has positioned it with a far higher and more reliable Internet capacity than any other supplier in the region.
All of Liquid Telecom’s POPs in Uganda now have a capacity ranging from 1 to 10 Gigabytes per second. This speed is 10 times faster than the average Ugandan Internet speed, which stands at 5.09 mbps according to Internet World Stats (IWS).
“We are setting up Metro towns in order to give these towns a network connection that will see their businesses access the kind of speed, reliability and affordability of internet that users are getting in the capital Kampala. E-business and governance are taking shape and therefore we need to incorporate the whole population into this frontier in order to realize balanced development,” said Mr Haerdtle.
The Metro towns will additionally help mitigate unemployment in Uganda as Internet connectivity directly and indirectly spurs job creation. Uganda is one of the sub-Saharan Africa's countries with the highest rates of youth unemployment, according to a 2012 study by ActionAid International Uganda (AAIU), an NGO. The study sampled both rural and urban youth and found the unemployment rate at 61.6 per cent.
Liquid Telecom owns the largest independent fibre network on the continent stretching over 18,000kms, and has a presence in East, Central and Southern African. It has also built the continent’s first regional fibre ring in order to offer uninterrupted Internet connectivity. Its fibre connection is linked through the Malaba border from Bungoma, where Liquid Telecom in Kenya has a Point of Presence. This main fibre cable links to the international Internet gateway in Kampala, from where it heads westwards into Rwanda across the Katuna border.
In Rwanda, the main connection links into Tanzania through Liquid Telecom Namanga route and then back to Kenya, connecting to the submarine cables in Mombasa, creating East Africa’s first terrestrial optical fibre ring. This ring gives the firm a back up alternative for customers to stay connected even in the event of a fibre cut, as traffic is automatically rerouted in the opposite direction.
Also uniquely, Liquid Telecom’s fibre ring is connected to all five submarine cable systems. In case there is a problem with one of the Seacom, Teams, Wacs, Eassy and Sat3 cables, the other four are on standby and act as a backup. Other local data providers have only one marine cable connection meaning a single fault along that one cable can stop completely their flow of data and Internet.
“Internet infrastructure is a utility, just as electricity lines and water piping are utilities, and we are proud to be connecting so many more Ugandan towns to fibre internet and to be making such a significant investment in the country’s internet backbone,” said Mr Haerdtle.