UPDATE: Liberia gears up for ACE

05 October 2011 | Guy Matthews

The government of Liberia has entered the country into the West Africa Regional Communications Infrastructure Program (WARCIP) as it prepares for the landing of the soon-to-be-launched Africa to Europe (ACE) subsea cable.

WARCIP is a World Bank-funded project to boost broadband connectivity across west Africa, and already has operations in Guinea, Burkina Faso, Gambia and Sierra Leone.

Liberia’s entry into the scheme, which has been negotiated by its government in partnership with national regulator the Liberia Telecommunications Authority (LTA), has been made possible through a $25.6 million World Bank loan. Around $20 million of this sum will go to the consortium behind ACE, funding Liberia’s connection to the system before its launch, probably in the first half of 2012.

The ACE consortium is led by France Telecom, and will connect 23 countries along the continent’s west coast, starting in South Africa and ending in France on its 17,000km route.

Two of the countries ACE will connect – Mali and Niger - are landlocked, requiring terrestrial build. Meanwhile pan-African network operator Gateway Communications has renewed its data and wholesale licences in Mozambique, on the promise of helping mobile service providers to develop next generation services.

Gateway Communications currently provides capacity on satellite, terrestrial and subsea cables to a mix of local Internet service providers and mobile operators. In particular it has been working to help spread 3G connectivity to rural areas of the country. 

“Mozambique has an Internet penetration of less than 3%, according to the ITU,” said Silvio do Carmo, wholesale business development director of Gateway Communication. “This is set to change with an increase in 3G networks and the creation of future telecoms infrastructure in the northern parts of the country. An increase in capacity will allow key sectors such as mining, tourism and agriculture to develop further, increasing Mozambique’s GDP.”