“Rwanda has great prospects,” says Liquid Telecom CEO
04 August 2018 | Jason McGee-Abe
In the build up to Capacity Africa in Kigali, Rwanda, Nic Rudnick, CEO of Liquid Telecom, spoke exclusively to Capacity Media spoke about the company’s long-term support of the event and the Rwandan marketplace.
“We’ve sponsored Capacity Africa every year and it’s one of our main events. I’m also very glad it’s moved to Kigali,” Rudnick has told Capacity.
“Kigali has become a big centre for commerce and leading conferences now and we’ve got big investments in Rwanda. What people may not realise is that it has also become one of the most connected places where virtually every house in Kigali will soon be connected on our fibre network. We’ve got fibre running down virtually every street in the capital. Liquid Telecom has a massive fibre-to-the-home [FTTH] project in Kigali, with tens of thousands of houses connected and we’re continuing to build on the rollout.” Last year, Liquid Telecom completed the 100G upgrades to key routes on the East Africa Fibre Ring, which saw 100G links to the cities of Kigali, Kampala, Tororo, Nairobi, and Mombasa.
“We think it’s a great country with great prospects and it’s a very easy place to do business. We have a lot of success there,” added the CEO of Liquid Telecom, who picked up the Best African Wholesale Carrier award at last year’s Global Carrier Awards [Entries for the 2018 GCAs close on August 15th!].
Rudnick made the comments to Capacity Media’s Editor-in-Chief Jason McGee-Abe in a Big Interview piece which will feature in the August/September issue of Capacity Magazine. Rudnick also divulges in the interview what his thoughts are on how regulatory support has evolved over the years in Africa.
The country’s prospects have been boosted after the Government of Rwanda launched a new $30 million (RWF25.4bn) ‘National Research and Innovation Fund’ in June aimed at boosting the country’s ICT sector. The fund, announced at an event in Kigali, was created after a loan was granted to Rwanda by the African Development Bank (AfDB) through its African Development Fund (ADF).
The Liquid Telecom CEO started his career as a telecoms lawyer and is credited with helping to break the telecommunications monopoly in Zimbabwe in the mid-1990s, which saw Strive Masiyiwa’s Econet Wireless gain a licence and compete with state-owned Posts and Telecommunications Corporation (PTC).
It not only served to develop competition in Zimbabwe but the whole continent. It was also the beginning of a fruitful partnership, which led to Rudnick leaving the legal world and join Masiyiwa at Econet Wireless. They helped to found Liquid Telecom after Econet Carrier Services merged with Econet’s satellite business, a move that positioned the company firmly as an infrastructure provider and led to the rebranded launch of Liquid Telecom.
Historic 60,000km One Africa network
Fast forward to 2018, Liquid Telecom has now struck an agreement with Telecom Egypt that will allow the African operator to complete a pan-African terrestrial fibre network, stretching from Cape Town, South Africa, to Cairo, Egypt. The MoU will see Liquid Telecom link its network in Sudan into Telecom Egypt’s network through a new cross border interconnection, completing the 10-year project to offer a 60,000km network running the length of the continent.
“What’s the background to the project, which stretches the entire length of the African continent?” I ask Rudnick. “It’s something that Strive Masiyiwa, our founder and executive chairman of Econet, articulated a number of years ago, which was the vision to create a single fibre network from Cape to Cairo,” he tells Capacity.
“We’ve been working on it, expanding our network and we’re really excited that it’s now reached fruition. It’s an historic moment that we can say that there is a single fibre network that you can terrestrially run from Cape Town to Cairo.”
So when will the One Africa network officially launch? “From a contractual point of view it’s done. In terms of the technical capability, that’s imminent as equipment is still being shipped and installed,” Rudnick says. Will it launch in time for Capacity Africa? “I hope so,” he says. “I know that’s a bit non-committal but if you asked me directly if that’s roughly the time period we have in mind to launch than I’d say yes.”
Ben Roberts, Group CTO of Liquid Telecom, which is a platinum sponsor for the event, will be at Capacity Africa and is taking part in our Keynote Panel Discussion on Day One: Creating One African Market: Inter-African Business in the Wholesale Sector.