__Yes, Afri-can! And for years, already is.
This week Liquid Telecom, one of our companies, has announced a joint venture with Sudatel, a company from Sudan, to build a fibre optic network (meaning high-speed broadband connectivity) and also to operate cloud computing data centers in that vast country.
Sudan is one of the last three countries remaining for us to complete our vision of a single network running on land, all the way from Cape to Cairo.
I’m so excited by this development because for more than 10 years we have been building this network which runs through the following countries: Botswana, Burundi, DRC, Kenya, Lesotho, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. This year we plan to connect Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan.
Liquid Telecom is also currently completing its Central Africa route which connects Angola, Congo and DRC.
As an engineer, I actually consider our network running from Kolwezi (southern DRC) to Kinshasa, and then on to Matadi on the Atlantic as an engineering masterpiece when it’s finally completed. I relish the crossing of the Congo River with our cable, like a child at Christmas!
One of the most challenging legs is the one that runs from Port Sudan through Chad, Cameroon, and Nigeria. This route not only links the East to West to the South to North route, but opens the way for our push into West Africa, which will begin in earnest this year.
We actually want to connect all the West African countries, and go right round back to Egypt!
The Liquid Telecom network has been recognized by African leadership in all these countries as a pivotal contribution to the development of the continent. It’s just amazing how much support we have received. Many presidents and prime ministers have called me to ask when we are going to complete or when we can get to their countries! We’re getting there…
Our network provides B2B (business-to-business) services to telecoms companies, banks, and large corporations, as well as big global companies like Microsoft and Google. We have been overwhelmed by global companies who want to invest in Africa because this infrastructure is now in place. The network is also the largest provider of wholesale infrastructure to internet service providers (ISPs) in all these countries.
Raising money for an undertaking this audacious has never been easy, but we have been able to do it every step of the way. Last year alone we raised over $1bn including launching our first global bond, which trades on the Dublin Stock Exchange.
As I have pointed out before, raising money is an ongoing process in a business. Right now we’re raising a lot of money in the global capital markets, and much of it will go to fulfilling our rollout in all these countries, as well as adding new services. We’re now moving to a place where some funds may actually come through a major public listing of this company.
There are some interesting lessons I want you to reflect on:
I have often encouraged you with the question, “What do you see?”
Something I have not spoken about much before, but will in future, is the issue of strategy. This is a huge subject.
#Every lion was once a cub!
This was once a tiny little business. I once asked an investor to put some money in it, and they replied by saying I should really shut it down!
A successful business is not built simply because you got a license or tender. It’s built by #People and #Processes.
This is just one of the ways we are working together to build Africa’s century!