Liquid Telecom, a subsidiary of Zimbabwe’s Econet Wireless Group, has extended its fibre network to the Democratic Republic of Congo, connecting Lubumbashi, the country’s second largest city, to international networks for the first time.
Liquid Telecom’s fibre network connects DRC to regional subsea cable networks including the West Africa Cable System (WACS), via Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa. This is significant as WACS is unlikely to arrive in Kinshasa, the capital of the DRC, until at least March 2013.
One of the DRC’s four mobile operators is already using Liquid’s fibre network to backhaul international traffic from Lubumbashi, eliminating the satellite ‘double-hops’ in its network.
Liquid Telecom fibre network is the biggest of its kind in Southern Africa. It provides backhaul between most urban areas and last mile connectivity in the main cities of Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho and South Africa.
Nic Rudnick, CEO of Liquid Telecom, said: “Our expansion into DRC is a major milestone both for us and the people of the DRC. Our fibre network is already the most extensive in Southern Africa. It is increasing the prosperity of ordinary Africans and the businesses which serve and employ them”.
Liquid Telecom operates as a wholesale carrier in all five countries as well as an operator in Zambia and Zimbabwe. Its network provides connectivity onto the four main subsea fibre systems of Africa; WACS, EASSY, Seacom and SAT3.
Liquid Telecom will be investing heavily in expanding into new countries to ensure that for the first time all countries and operators in Central and Southern Africa are directly connected.
By the end of 2012, DRC is expected to have a mobile penetration rate of 25%, fixed line penetration of 0.1%, while internet penetration will be just 1.5%, according to Australian research firm, BuddeCom. The country has a population of some 67 million people.