Chinese technology firm Huawei has started work on laying 4,000 km of fibre optic cable in Guinea over the next two years
The cable will offer 77 exchange points and make Guinea the first West African country to benefit from such broad coverage. At present, about five million of the country’s 11mn people have mobile phones but less than two per cent have access to the Internet.
Once completed in 2017, the cable network will allow Internet service providers to offer high-speed Internet access to most of the West African nation’s people, and could also serve other countries in the region.
Most fibre optic cables in the region are owned by private telecom operators and are laid across several countries, but this new cable project overseen by the government will offer high-speed Internet access to benefit individuals, schools, businesses and local administrations, as well as create about 20,000 jobs, said a statement from the Guinean president’s office.
Huawei West Africa’s Kevin Li said that neighbouring countries will be able to share the benefits of the fibre optic cable.
The ACE (Africa Coast to Europe) submarine cable, which links 23 countries along the west coast of Africa to Portugal and France, has a landing point in Guinea. The new cable could benefit other members of the close-knit four-nation Mano River Union which includes Sierra Leone, Liberia and Côte d’Ivoire. Sierra Leone and Liberia in particular are currently only served by ACE. The landlocked nation of Mali may also get improved Internet connectivity.
The cost of the project is about US$238mn and according to Xinhua, most of the financing is coming from China’s Eximbank.