World Bank’s IFC backs Google’s African fibre project
26 May 2017 | Alan Burkitt-Gray
The International Finance Corporation (IFC), an arm of the World Bank, is one of the partners in a $100 million project from Google to build open-access fibre networks in Africa.
The project, CSquared, already has local fibre networks in Ghana and Uganda, but the IFC, Convergence Partners and Mitsui are backing the extension of the wholesale, carrier-neutral service across sub-Saharan Africa.
“Together with our new partners, we believe CSquared can roll-out and operate affordable, high-speed, and reliable infrastructure to further expand internet access in Africa,” said Marian Croak, the former AT&T executive who is now Google’s vice president of access strategy and emerging markets.
Convergence Partners is one of the backers of the Seacom subsea cable and the FibreCo network in South Africa. Two years ago Mitsui backed a $150 million project, Afrimax, to accelerate LTE investment in sub-Saharan Africa.
“CSquared has built more than 800km of fibre in the cities of Kampala and Entebbe [in Uganda]; and 840km of fibre in the Ghanaian cities of Accra, Tema and Kumasi,” said Croak in a blog post. “In both Ghana and Uganda, more than 25 internet service providers and mobile network operators now use these metro fibre networks to offer broadband services and 4G data to end users, with more than 1,200 tower and commercial building sites connected directly to CSquared’s fibre.”
According to the IFC, Google will expand its existing operations in Uganda and Ghana, “with the goal of entering several new markets over the next five years”.
The IFC added: “The investment is part of IFC’s Digital Infrastructure Initiative (DII), which aims to increase internet access in under-served regions. Improving broadband connectivity through the DII is a priority for the World Bank Group.”
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