Liquid Telecoms is planning to expand its data centre operations across the African continent as it anticipate more demand for its services after it formally launched its “One Africa” broadband network.
The subsidiary of Econet Global, which is owned by the Zimbabwean billionaire and philanthropist Strive Masiyiwa, on Monday launched its “One Africa” broadband network set to connect the entire African continent through a land-based communication link between Cape Town and Cairo.
It launched the broadband network on Monday at the ongoing International Telecommunication Union (ITU) summit in Durban, South Africa.
The network will stretch more than 10 000km, making it the shortest direct fibre route between South Africa and Egypt. It will be able to ffer significantly reduced latency compared to undersea cables routes – many of which still transit via Europe.
The Cape to Cairo network sets a new standard for Africa and will open-up new trade opportunities across the region.
Liquid Telecom was also targeting to get more business from the recently signed African free-trade agreement that creates a market of 1.2 bilion people with a combined gross domestic product of more than $3,4 trillion (about R51 trillion).
The company is anticipating more demand for its data centre services as more customers connect to its “One Africa” broadband network.
Asked whether the company was planning to invest more into its data centre operations, Liquid Telecom CEO Reshaad Sha told TechFinancials: “Yes, we have started that project already. So we’ve got Nairobi, Harare, Johannesburg and Cape Town that’s live. Large data centre footprint already delivering cloud services and internet breakout, etc.”
Sha added: “We are going to increase that data centre footprint in all cities that will bring content closer to the citizens of that country.”
Liquid Telecom has been growing rapidly over the last few years fuelled by the demand for infrastructure to support broadband Internet on the African continent.
The company’s “One Africa” network spans more than 60,000km and covers 13 countries across Africa. It connects more than 660 cities and provide new opportunities to connect underserved communities.
The network has been in the making for over ten years and serves some of the largest global companies with some of the fastest network speeds on the continent.
“The idea (of our network) is to enable all these countries to connect to each other and exchange traffic and information,” Sha told TechFinancials.
In the early years, when you use to make a voice call it use to traverse via Europe. Slowly that has changed significantly.
“Now, we dont want to have internet traffic doing the similar thing,” said Sha. “We need to have African internet exchange points emerge across the continent.”
As part of the strategic partnership, Liquid Telecom and Telecom Egypt will share network infrastructure and explore further areas of collaboration, including joint network services, a peering arrangement and a voice interconnection agreement.
Liquid Telecoms will seek more partnership with Asian and European companies.
The company has already collaborated with China Telecom Global (CTG), a subsidiary of China Telecom Corporation Limited – one of the world’s largest providers of integrated telecommunication services.
China Telecom Global has already established a Point-of-Presence (PoP) at Liquid Telecom’s East Africa Data Centre in Nairobi, and will establish further PoPs at its data centre facilities in Johannesburg and Cape Town.
CTG and Liquid Telecom will also continue to explore joint service opportunities under the partnership.
Liquid Telecom’s network was also ready for the Fourth Industrial revolution (Industry 4.0).
Sha said start-ups and businesses in the continent (Africa) were experimenting with emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), internet of things (IoT), Big Data, Analytics and Blockchain, all of which had potential to solve African problems and improve livelihoods.
“We are improving cloud capabilities across the region, providing both infrastructure and tools to accelerate digital innovation,” he said.
Kenya is already benefiting from Liquid Telecom’s “One Africa” broadband network.
Liquid Telecom Kenya has partnered with Sigfox, the world’s leading Internet of Things (IoT) services provider, to build and deploy a nationwide IoT network covering up to 85% of the Kenyan population.
The launch of the IoT network in Kenya will support the Big Four agenda and will be used to connect sensors across all sectors, including agriculture and fishing, transport and logistics, utilities and energy, heavy industries, retail, and banking and insurance.
It will also be used for smart cities projects and in wildlife conservation.
To further promote development, Liquid Telecom Kenya will be working with incubator hubs and universities to enable students and startups to develop IoT solutions locally.