EU bank supports new fibre network in DR Congo

EU bank supports new fibre network in DR Congo

Yonas Maru.jpg

The European Union’s investment bank is to support the company building a new network for the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Bandwidth and Cloud Services (BCS), which is building the network, will connect more than 2.5 million people living in the eastern regions of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

Yonas Maru (pictured), founder and managing director of BCS Group, said: “This is an important milestone in our mission to provide fast, high-quality and affordable digital connectivity in underserved areas in DRC and across eastern, central and southern Africa.”

The funding comes from the European Investment Bank (EIB), under its Global Gateway programme. The new fibre infrastructure will enable high-speed broadband internet in homes, schools and hospitals, opening up access to digital services and information, and contributing to the country’s digital transformation, said the bank.

Maru said: “Our continued partnership with the EIB means we can move forward with our expansion plans to build over 20,000km of digital infrastructure out of which 12,000km are in DRC.”

BCS has an agreement with the DRC government to connect over 1,900 schools, 1,640 public hospitals and government institutions along the BCS backbone and metro fibre infrastructure.

“The government of DRC has in return agreed to waive the fibre licence fee per kilometre and provide rights of way on all public infrastructure – railroad, electricity poles, rivers and lakes – in exchange,” he said.

The EIB and BCS signed a warrants agreement that will allow BCS to move forward with plans to install a new fibre backbone in the eastern regions of the DRC. This follows a US$10 million quasi-equity investment from EIB Global, the EIB’s arm dedicated to international partnerships and development finance. The financing package addresses BCS’s immediate funding needs to support their fast and long-term growth.

Thomas Östros, VP of the EIB, said: “We are very pleased to take this step forward with BCS, as part of the European Investment Bank’s commitment to accelerating digitalisation in the Democratic Republic of Congo and across Africa.”

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