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Liquid Telecom gets $180 million from UK for pan-African fibre network

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By Reuters
Liquid Telecom gets $180 million from UK for pan-African fibre network
FILE PHOTO: Contractors lay the East African Marine Cable (TEAMS) fiber optic cable from the ship Niwa outside the Portuguese built Fort Jesus in the Kenyan coastal city of Mombasa, June 12, 2009. REUTERS/Joseph Okanga/File Photo   -   Copyright  JOSEPH OKANGA(Reuters)

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – African fibre company Liquid Telecom has won a $180 million (141.42 million pounds) investment from British development finance agency CDC Group, which the firm said it will use to deliver high-speed broadband further into central and western Africa.

The Mauritius-based, privately owned firm said in a statement on Tuesday that the money will allow it to accelerate the expansion of its pan-African fibre network, which it says is already the largest on the continent, stretching from Cape Town at the southernmost tip of South Africa to Cairo in Egypt.

Nic Rudnick, Liquid Telecom’s CEO, said this will bring a fast and reliable connection and cloud services to communities and businesses in some of the most remote parts of Africa.

“Once completed, it will bring significant social and economic benefits – from providing access to online educational resources to supporting national economies, creating more jobs and driving the adoption of new technologies,” he said.

Africa currently has the lowest rates of fixed and mobile broadband subscription penetration in the world, at 0.6 per 100 inhabitants and 29.7 per 100 inhabitants respectively, according to data published last week by the United Nation’s International Telecommunication Union.

That compares to 31.3 fixed broadband subscriptions per 100 inhabitants and 93.6 mobile subscriptions per 100 inhabitants in Europe, leaving Africa with some way to go before it enjoys the same benefits from the digital economy.

“Digital infrastructure is still a major problem for Africa’s governments, people and it’s businesses,” said Nick O’Donohoe, CEO of the CDC Group, adding that quality internet is central to the continent’s development and economic growth.

(Reporting by Emma Rumney; Editing by James Macharia)