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Liquid Telecom expands its Africa broadband operations

Liquid Telecom Flickr

© Flickr/CC-licence/Kenya ICT Authority

Africa broadband operator Liquid Telecom has announced it has raised $150m to extend its fibre networks across the continent. The company, which is controlled by African telecoms company Econet Wireless with a head office in London, has already built 18,000km of fibre broadband across 15 nations in eastern parts of the continent from South Africa to Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Liquid Telecom aims to connect 100,000 homes by the end of 2015 with broadband speeds of up to 100Mbit/s, and will use the new funds to provide service in three more countries this year.

“We connect people to the internet who have not had that access before,” said Nic Rudnick, CEO of Liquid Telecom. “The first phase for many is on the mobile but they need faster internet as well. Kigali [in Rwanda] will have fibre going past every house this year. Our fibre to the home is better than many parts of the UK and even London.”

The company installs long-haul fibre between countries, as well as rings of cables around major cities, providing high-speed broadband to densely populated areas. Rudnick says other solutions need to be found (although he does not mention them) to connect more isolated communities: “There will be some areas where fibre cannot go. It will need some clever ideas to get to all of Africa.”

Africa’s Business Daily is also reporting that Liquid Telecom’s Kenyan operation has taken over the contract to connect residents of Nakuru in the Rift Valley with free Wi-Fi, after a similar project by Telkom Kenya’s Orange failed. The Bilawaya service should have headline speeds of 1Gbit/s and will cover a population area of 1.6 million residents, at a cost of $400,000.

“We have in place 60 hot spots where connectivity will be strongest including shopping malls, the stadiums, university campuses and the county central business district,” said Ben Roberts, CEO of Liquid Telecom Kenya.

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