On Saturday I travelled to Sharm El-Sheikh in Egypt for a special signing ceremony of a historic agreement between Liquid Telecom and Telecom Egypt, witnessed by His Excellency Dr Amr Talaat, the Egyptian Minister of Communications and Information Technology, and Her Excellency Dr Sahar Nasr, the Egyptian Minister of Investment and International Cooperation. At this ceremony, Liquid Telecom announced a landmark investment of $400m in Egypt over the next three years in a major partnership with Telecom Egypt to connect Egyptian businesses to the rest of Africa, and to build data centres and network infrastructure within the country.
This development follows the historic completion of Liquid Telecom’s Cape Town to Cairo high-speed fibre network which runs a land-based cable across 13 countries, linking over 660 cities and towns.
The Cape to Cairo project was heavily supported by African Union (AU) leadership. Over the years and especially as current AU chair, His Excellency President Paul Kagame of Rwanda urged countries across the continent to create a “One Africa Broadband Network.” Egyptian President His Highness Abdel Fattah El-Sisi has said he will continue to push this initiative during his tenure next year as the incoming chairman of the AU’s 54 nation body.
__Why is this important? Because this is #how,#together, we are building Africa’s century: creating jobs, increasing intra Africa trade, and strengthening a world class digital infrastructure for even more investment to enable our citizens to prosper as the Fourth Industrial Revolution transforms our continent and the world…
# In each country, we provide backbone network infrastructure to both Internet Service Providers and telecoms providers.
# We also provide what are called “data centers” which house the “cloud” (computer networks).
# High speed internet access makes it possible for tens of thousands of savvy, young entrepreneurs like so many of you to create amazing new businesses that rely on the Internet…
Come to think of it, if you’re on the Internet right now (using something like Facebook) we have probably enabled it!
As many of you know, I have talked about my burning passion to connect “Cape to Cairo” for decades… Now it’s done! Phew!
Our next task is to expand to West Africa. We’re working on our “trans-Sahara” route, running from Sudan through Chad and Cameroon to Abuja, Nigeria. This is already at the border of Cameroon and Nigeria. We should cross into Nigeria before the end of January.
Then we will link the networks in all the countries of the west, all the way to Senegal. This is our mission for 2019. In 2020, we want to spin around all the way back to Cairo!
__I would like to express my deepest appreciation to the AU Chair President Kagame. He above all recognized what few recognized before — that if they’re given support, the private sector can undertake major infrastructural projects of any scale.
The railway, power, and communications networks of the USA were built by private companies. President Kagame reached out to his colleagues and asked them to help us, when I met him with several leaders last year. Now he has passed the baton to President El-Sisi, and I have promised him that this time next year, I will return to inaugurate “Cairo Dakar”!
For a project of this scale to be built, you need a world class management team and a professional workforce, together with equally dedicated contractors and their staff.
Tens of thousands of people have worked on this project over the past 14 years when we first embarked on this fibre build out. It has meant thousands of jobs for local communities and is creating ever more jobs as Internet and broadband services take a hold, and become cheaper and faster.
Nic Rudnick, the Group CEO of Liquid, joined me over 22 years ago as a young white Zimbabwean and proud African. His leadership team includes Stephan Duproz (France), Adil El Youssefi (Kenya), David Eurin (France), Kate Hennessy (UK), Wellington Makamure (Zimbabwe), Willem Marais (SA), Ahmad Mokhles (Egypt), Phil Moses (UK), Sam Nkusi (Rwanda), Michelle Pirie (SA), Ben Roberts (UK), Reshaad Sha (SA), Faithful Taruwinga (Zimbabwe) and…
In fact, there are so many men and women in senior leadership positions working behind the scenes that make a business like this possible.
I can’t mention them all or this post would never end, but I salute each and every one of them across Africa today for a job well done!
I trust that all of you entrepreneurs out there, especially in the Senior Class, know why the huge power of high speed connectivity is such a big deal, now and in the future…