Liquid Telecom, a telecoms group aiming to build better broadband in parts of Africa than is available in the UK, has raised $150m to extend its superfast fibre networks across the continent.
The group, which is controlled by African telecoms company Econet Wireless but has a head office in London, will use the additional funds to build fibre broadband networks in several countries in the region.
“Our fibre to the home is better than many parts of the UK and even London,” said Nic Rudnick, chief executive of Liquid Telecom, who added that the group aimed to connect 100,000 homes by the end of the year with broadband that could reach speeds of 100 mbps. The UK average, in contrast, is about 20 mbps.
Tony Worthington, head of Standard Chartered’s telecoms division, said the facility was “heavily oversubscribed”, which meant there was the “probability that it will be upsized at some point in the future”.
Liquid Telecom is planning to enter three more countries this year, Mr Rudnick said. It 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 installs long-haul fibre between countries, as well as rings of cables around the bigger cities, which is used to provide a high standard of internet access. “We connect people to the internet who have not had that access before,” Mr Rudnick said. “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.”
The group provides reliable, high-speed broadband to densely populated cities in the region and Mr Rudnick said other solutions needed to be found to connect more isolated communities.
Mobile operators are already building masts in most parts of Africa while even more remote areas are attracting interest from companies such as Google, which wants to use innovative technology such as satellites and blimps to provide a basic level of connectivity.
“There will be some areas where fibre cannot go,” he said. “It will need some clever ideas to get to all of Africa.”
Liquid Telecom is also connecting businesses, including international banks that use the networks to link their branches to head office and retailers.
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