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West and Central African governments eye fibre network expansion in the next 2-3 years

December 11, 2013  »  BroadbandNo Comment

Not all African nations are at the same state of network evolution: some have national fibre backbones yet most are lacking in scale. Moreover, few ministries boast a comprehensive broadband plan that guides network expansion. Still, many governments, particularly those in West and Central Africa, dream of substantial bandwidth for all cities and villages.

A recent article appearing in the French-language Telecom Network Magazine No. 65 gives insights on the state of broadband internet access in seven West African and Central African countries. Through recent remarks from ICT ministers, we can get a sense of what’s in store for regional fibre network development in Ghana, DR Congo, Mali, Cameroon, Zambia, Nigeria, and Cote d’Ivoire.


  • 12.2 terabits of bandwidth (to be 17 terabytes in two years)
  • five submarine cables (SAT-3, Main One, Glo-1, WACS and ACE)
  • 29 WiMAX sites but gradually migrating toward LTE
  • Ministry of Communications is currently building a fibre backbone of 780 km eastward

DR Congo:

  • ambition is to develop 40,000 km of optical fiber across the country: the first 800 km of optical fiber were implemented; the second stage of 4,000 km will be done in about two years to Lubumbashi, the Zambian border
  • July 2013, the country launched the landing station of the optical fiber of the WACS consortium Muanda


  • Asked by a newspaper, the new Malian Minister of Communication and New Information Technologies, Jean-Marie Sangare, listed the projects in store for the ministry:

“There are big plans on hold. The transition to digital, rehabilitation work due to damage on the facilities because of the crisis in the North, the fiber optic project, the problem of the third license among others…In short, there is much to do. We go together within the department to set priorities, and then see what can be done immediately so that the change is perceived and it directly impacts the lives of Malians.”

  • His predecessor, Breïma Tolo, telling the Ecofin agency about national fibre projects, indicated that Mali already has 7,500 km of optical fiber:

“This allowed us to have a connection with Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal, Burkina Faso, and Mauritania. The other three interconnected countries are Guinea, Algeria, and Niger. There is a project that was going to connect Niger and Algeria, but unfortunately due to the situation that the country has realized, the project has taken a hit and stopped.”


  • the country has 6,000 km of optical fiber
  • 10,000 or 20,000 km of optical fiber are needed to mesh the entire country
  • signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the installation of approximately 4,000 km of additional fiber in the near future
  • part of the implementation of the project Central African Backbone (CAB) involves major fibre optic sections from the border with the Central African Republic and one with Nigeria


  • 4,000 km of optical fiber across the country
  • aims to reach 10,000 km of optical fiber, same as Mali and Cameroon, in the next 2-3 years
  • has plans to provide fibre networks in capitals of all ten provinces


  • among the countries that have already deployed fibre over a large part of the country
  • 41,000 km of optical fiber with 11,000 km installed between 2010 and 2013
  • 5.1 Tbps international capacity has been added since 2010 to bring the total current 10 Tbps – expected to rise to 15 Tbps in 2014

Côte d’Ivoire:

  • 1,400 km of fibre installed
  • ambition is to have a national backbone of nearly 7,000 km
  • Bruno Koné, Minister of Post and ICT in May said:

“We are building a national fibre network to interconnect all the capitals of the country’s departments, which will underpin the whole ambition of our country in ICT. We have just completed the first 1,400 kilometers of the network (and North West braces), which will be throughout 6,700 km, and we start in a few weeks the second trench, 640 km. This network will be complemented by satellite coverage to connect about 3,000 villages.”

Note: Bullet points have been translated and summarized from the original article. Direct quotes from ministers (Mali and Cote d’Ivoire) have been translated from French.

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