Liquid Telecom’s intra-Africa internet cable goes live

By Victor Magunamu, Nairobi, Kenya

Liquid Telecom, a subsidiary of Econet Wireless, has announced that its intra Africa broadband cable from Cape to Cairo is complete and live.

The terrestrial fibre network stretching 10,000 kilometers and cutting through 660 towns in Africa is part of the firm’s ‘One Africa’ Network initiative targeting to connect the continent with high speed internet to spur social economic growth.

"Our network passes through passes through some of most remote corners of the planet and continues to provide new opportunities to connect underserved communities. Africa will for the first time have a direct communication link from Cape Town to Cairo,’’ Liquid Telecom said in a statement.

The project is targeting startups and business in Africa experimenting with emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, internet of things, big data analytics and block chain with high speed internet and cloud based services.

"We are finding new ways to support Africa’s thriving tech start-ups by providing both infrastructure and tools to accelerate digital innovations championed by the continent’s youthful population,’’ the firm explained.

The land cable will see the internet provider offer significantly reduced latency compared to cable routes – many of which still transit via Europe, lowering internet speed. 

"To achieve this, our network has overcome some of the most challenging distances and terrains in the continent-not to mention the threat of wildlife, limited power supply and incurred huge losses due to theft of equipment,’’ Liquid Telecom said.

The network cuts across southern Africa covering Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe. It also has a presence in Rwanda, Kenya and Uganda.

In July when Liquid Telecom signed a memorandum of understanding to link its network from Sudan into Telecom Egypt’s network via a new cross-border interconnection, Econet Chairperson Strive Masiyiwa said his vision is to reach every part of Africa.

“Completing our vision of building a single network running on land, all the way from Cape to Cairo is a historic moment for the company and for a more connected Africa,” Strive Masiyiwa, founder and executive chairman of Econet, said in the statement.

Latest global report on internet speed shows that most countries in Africa are still below minimum global standards.

The study by Google Open Source and Princeton University shows that none of 39 ranked countries from Africa achieved average speed of 10Mbps-deemed to be minimum speed required by consumers.

It indicated that it would take more than a day for most African countries to download a high definition movie of 7.5 gigabytes.

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