One Africa Broadband Vision: Implications For Connectivity in Africa

Liquid Telecom, a subsidiary of Econet Wireless Global announced during the just ended ITU Telecom World 2018 conference that One Africa- Cape to Cairo fibre broadband connection is no longer a dream, it has been successfully connected and now live.

Liquid Telecom SA CEO, Reshaad Sha said “We just came out of press conference where we announced our One Africa network and specifically, the link between Cape to Cairo being live”

One Africa as it is popularly known is  a terrestrial fibre network that connects 13 countries and 660 towns along the length of the continent. The first of its kind, it is the result of a number of partnerships made between African telecoms groups, such as Telecom Egypt and Sudatel. The network makes use of existing infrastructure as well as newly laid fibre.

What Does It Mean For People On The Continent?

It took Liquid Telecom 10 years to realise its Cape-to-Cairo dream, a fair amount of time for a project of such a magnitude and with far reaching implications.

One thing for sure is visions and plans of bringing connectivity to the disconnected are rarely lacking in ambition.

Amongst some of the benefits of these converging communication networks are reduced transaction costs, increased productivity and a positive contribution to economic growth. The ambitious project presents digital connectivity as an instrument to achieve a range of social and economic developmental goals.

Both the private and public sectors are desperately making attempts to connect the world.

Tech giants Facebook and Google, are investing in projects that aim to connect all of the world’s remaining four billion people that have never accessed the Internet.

According to a UK: Deloitte TMT – Value Of Connectivity Economic And Social Benefits Of Expanding Internet Access Research Paper

“The Internet offers unprecedented opportunities for economic growth in developing countries. By providing access to information, connecting people to businesses everywhere, and opening up new markets, the Internet can transform the very nature of an economy and support economic development.”

The network will also open up greater channels for business and trade between the connected countries.
The Cape to Cairo network – often referred to as “the One Africa” broadband network – has been in the making for over ten years and serves some of the largest global companies with some of the fastest network speeds on the continent.
Strive Masiyiwa, Founder and Executive Chairman of Econet the parent company said  “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. This network not only represents a remarkable engineering achievement that has overcome some of the most challenging distances and terrains on the continent, but it is also supporting the rise of Africa’s digital economies.”

Mr Masiyiwa also observed that: “Wherever the One Africa network has been completed we have seen dramatic increase of data traffic between nations connected to it. We expect to see a lot of traffic between Egypt and the rest of Africa. Where there is improved communications, improved trade follows as well. We need to see more trade between African countries.”

African countries have the world’s most expensive internet access, according to a study by the Alliance for Affordable Internet. Few African countries come close to the UN Broadband Commission’s target that a gigabyte of data should not cost more than 2% of average monthly income.

This development should bring good news of reduced data tarriffs to the people on the continent.

Reshaad Sha during the launch noted that,“each country that has been connected to the One Africa network has experienced a dramatic increase in data traffic between the other nations connected to it.”

In addition the announcement was made at an opportune time because African Union members recently agreed to continent-wide free-trade, having the potential to create a market of 1.2 billion people and a combined GDP of $3.4 trillion.

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