At the ITU Telecom World 2018 conference, Liquid Telecom announced that their One Africa fiber network connecting 13 Afrikan countries from Cape Town, South Africa to Cairo, Egypt is now up and running. The announcement was made by Reshaad Sha, CEO at Liquid Telecom, who also who also explained that they had observed a dramatic increase in inter-country data traffic between the various countries connected to the One Africa network so far.

Liquid Telecom's One Africa Network.

So far, the One Africa network connects and cuts across 13 countries. As Sha pointed out, 9 of these are connected directly with Liquid Telecom while the other 4 connect using Liquid Telecom's partners, like Telecom Egypt.

Pan Afrikan fiber network

The final portion of the network was concluded when Liquid Telecom signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Telecom Egypt that will allowed them to eventually complete Afrika’s first terrestrial fiber network. The One Africa network covers a total distance, in fiber cables, of over 60,000 km and cuts across 660 plus towns and cities.

As Sha elaborated, one of the reasons they decided on having a terrestrial fiber intra-Afrika fiber network was to reduce latency.

Railway track network in Afrika. M & M Corporation Group

"Intra-Afrikan 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. Our network has often followed the path of existing infrastructure, with our fiber 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."

It's quite encouraging for this to happen. when one looks at a map of the rail network in Afrika, you can observe a clear pattern of each country's rail network going out to the coast (ports) or connecting to country's with ports but very few of the rail networks are intra-country. This, the lack of rail connectivity, also contributes to the low levels of intra-Afrikan trade and hopefully with the introduction of an intra-Afrikan fiber network, more intra-Afrikan trade will follow.

Liquid Telecom have also indicated that the One Africa network will be extended into Central and West Afrika and are in the process of establishing fiber crossings between East and West Afrika.

Cover image credit: Franck V./Unsplash