The Atlantic Ocean as seen from Libreville, Gabon. Photo credit: Ben Mack
Pan-African telecoms group Liquid Telecom has announced that it is investing 8 billion Egyptian pounds (more than US$400 million) in Egypt over the next three years. This is part of a major partnership with Telecom Egypt, which also includes network infrastructure and data centres.
Telecom Egypt will use the network to connect Egyptian businesses to the rest of Africa, whilst also partnering with Liquid Telecom to build data centres across Egypt. Following an initial investment of US$50 million in data centres and cloud services, Liquid Telecom plans to invest an additional US$350 million in broadband and financial inclusion initiatives, as well as high capacity data centres.
Liquid Telecom’s network is almost 70,000 kilometres in length, and is linked to more than 600 towns and cities in 13 countries across Africa. It is also part of the wider One Africa broadband network, which has been strongly supported by the African Union and Rwandan president Paul Kagame, who is also chair of the African Union.
Egyptian president president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi welcomed the development as a major milestone in connecting Africa.
The deal follows the signing of a landmark partnership agreement with Telecom Egypt to mark the completion of Liquid Telecom’s "Cape to Cairo" network. This network represents the first direct land-based terrestrial fibre link from Cape Town to Cairo, stretching from Africa's south to north.
The US$400 million investment will enable Liquid Telecom to expand its position as a connectivity and cloud solutions provider in North Africa, serving businesses in the region with network and data centre services. Through its data centre offering, Africa Data Centres (ADC), Liquid Telecom is facilitating the growth of Africa’s cloud by providing a platform for cloud services to be delivered locally in many markets for the first time.
According to Strive Masiyiwa, the group executive chair of Liquid Telecom’s parent company Econet, the next mission is to complete a link between Cairo and Dakar, Senegal through Sudan, Chad, and Nigeria, as well as the rest of West Africa. “We have already crossed Africa from east to west through Sudan and Chad. We are at the Nigerian border and we expect to reach Abuja by the end of January in time for the AU Summit,” he said.
Masiyiwa also expressed his appreciation for leadership support across the continent. He said the ‘One Africa’ model could encourage other entrepreneurs to build projects in complementary sectors, such as rail and power. “We need to push the linkage of our continental power grids, and also rail and air transportation. Now is the time for bold initiatives to build intra African trade and investment.”
The Liquid Telecom and Telecom Egypt investment, announced at the Africa 2018 Forum, was made during a signing ceremony between the two companies.