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Congo, Gabon launch interconnected fibre optic network

Congo, Gabon launch interconnected fibre optic network

Spanning 1,604km, the newly launched fibre optic interconnection by Gabon and Congo is a major landmark for the Central African fibre optic backbone (CAB) project.

Gabon's network is 1,100km and in Congo it spans 504km. The interconnection represents the completion of phase 1 of component 4 of the CAB project.

While Gabon's aspect of the project was undertaken by China Communication Service International (CCSI), Huawei was contracted for the Congo project which officially began in 2015 as component 3 of the CAB project.

Technical, administrative and financial governance issues relating to the operations of the interconnection were resolved in February 2018 by the Gabon-Congo Joint Committee and all parties signed interconnection, commercial and peering agreements to pave the way for the official inauguration.

The goal of the CAB project is to lower the cost of using fibre optic infrastructure in the region while also promoting regional integration.

Under the initiative, the 11 countries that make up the African Central Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC) would be digitally connected with funding provided by the World Bank, African Development (AfDB) and the government of member countries.

They include the Chad and Central African Republic (CAB1), Sao Tome and Principe (CAB2), Republic of Congo (CAB3), Gabon (CAB4) and Democratic Republic of Congo (CAB5).

Elisabeth Huybens, Country Director, Africa at the World Bank said the step taken by Gabon and Congo is a decisive one towards achieving digital integration in the region.

"It would help diversify their economies, create jobs and democratize the use of information and communication technologies and services in the sub-region," she said.

With Gabon and Congo interconnected, the next phase of the initiative is to connect Congo's fibre optic network to Cameroon and the Central African Republic, while Gabon would also be joining Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea.

The regional interconnections are expected to be completed by 2020.

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