Pan-African technology group, Liquid Intelligent Technologies, is partnering with Facebook to build a long haul and metro fibre network in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Announced Monday, July 5 2021, the build will be funded by Facebook but owned and operated by Liquid Intelligent Technologies.
The fibre network is expected to improve Internet quality for 30 million people and provide regional connectivity for Central Africa.
Nic Rudnick, Group CEO, Liquid Intelligent Technologies, claims the project is the hardest fibre build ever undertaken and that the fibre network will cross "more than 2,000 kilometres of some of the most challenging terrain in the world."
The fibre network stretching from the Atlantic Ocean will go through the Congo Rainforest then across East Africa to 2Africa, a large subsea cable connecting Africa, Middle East and Europe.
Described as a digital corridor by Liquid Intelligence Technologies, the network will connect DRC to neighbouring African countries including Angola, Zambia, Uganda, Congo, Rwanda, and Tanzania.
The company says it will employ over 5,000 locals to work on the project.
The project holds promising prospects for Internet connectivity in DRC. According to a study by CDC Group — UK owned development finance institution for Africa and Asia — in 2020, 9% of people in DRC use the internet, with the high cost of connectivity cited as the most significant reason.
However, this isn't Facebook's first project aimed at bringing faster Internet connectivity to Africa. In 2020, it partnered with major telcos to build a 37,000 kilometre subsea Internet cable to connect Africa with Europe and the Middle East.
While Facebook's partnership with Liquid Intelligence Technologies could help DRC's Internet connectivity and affordability, its impact might not be as significant as expected.
Essentially, while this project will provide wholesale services to mobile network operators and Internet service providers, they might not have the required infrastructure to leverage the long haul fibre networks.