Pan-African telecoms group Liquid Telecom has made history by becoming the first operator to connect Africa through a direct land-based communication link between Cape Town and Cairo.
Liquid Telecom has rolled out an extensive fibre optic ring stretching over 10,000km, creating the shortest direct fibre route between South Africa and Egypt. This means the operator is now able to offer significantly reduced latency between African countries.
Liquid Telecom’s network has overcome some of the most challenging distances and terrains on the continent, not to mention the threat of wildlife, limited power supplies and theft of equipment.
Literally the established fibre links run over the Limpopo and Zambezi rivers, with resilient built optic networks which are coupled by repeaters every 400km instead of every 200km. Liquid recently launched awareness campaigns to protect its network from vandalism in rural areas.
In trying to champion the pan-African trade, Liquid Telecom researched that Intra-African trade remains low and is estimated to be only 18%, compared to intra-European and Intra-North American trade which stood at 69% and 50% respectively.
Liquid’s network has often followed the path of existing infrastructure, with the operator’s fibre cables now found running alongside roads, railways and even power lines. This has helped to form new information corridors that link the region’s major trade hubs.
Each country that has been connected by Liquid Telecom to the “One Africa” network has experienced a dramatic increase in data traffic between the other nations connected to it.
African Union members recently agreed to a continent-wide free-trade agreement, which creates a market of 1.2 billion people with a combined gross domestic product of more than $3.4 trillion, the timing couldn’t be better:
“Where there are improved communications, improved trade follows as well. We need to see more trade between African countries,” once commented Strive Masiyiwa, Econet’s Founder and Executive Chairman.
Liquid Telecom always dubs its network ready for the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Access to high-speed broadband is providing the foundations for digital growth and innovation across the region. Start-ups and businesses in Africa are experimenting with emerging technologies, such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data Analytics and Blockchain, that have the potential to solve African problems and improve lives.
Liquid Telecom is now improving cloud capabilities across the region through providing both the infrastructure and tools to accelerate digital innovation. Approximately 20% of Africa’s population is aged between 15 and 24, marking the region as the youngest in the world.
The operator also recognizes that the development of digital skills will be critical to both their future and a successful digital economy. It is now creating new ways to support Africa’s thriving tech start-up ecosystem, and already provide access to high-speed internet and cloud-based services to many of the region’s innovation hubs, start-up competitions and academic institutions.
The Liquid Telecom story doesn’t end with just linking Africa from Cape to Cairo. The “One Africa” network will be moving further into Central and Western Africa. Liquid is now in the process of establishing multiple fibre crossings between East and West Africa. It’s the new vision of Econet’s Founder and Executive Chairman Strive Masiyiwa to connect all the West African countries.