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FEATURE STORY

From the Republic of Congo to Gabon: Forging Ahead with the Digital Revolution

May 27, 2015


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Thierry Moungalla, Congo’s minister of telecommunications, and Pastor Ngoua N’Neme, Gabonese minister for the digital economy and communications, lay the cornerstone of the new network. 


STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • A groundbreaking ceremony marked the start of construction to lay a fiber optic network that will modernize information and communication technologies (ICTs) in the Republic of Congo and Gabon.
  • This Central African Backbone (CAB) regional project will offer enhanced access to faster and more affordable Internet services to the Congolese and Gabonese people.
  • The installation of the network, amounting to roughly 12 billion CFA, commenced in December 2014 and is expected to be completed in April 2016.

BRAZZAVILLE, May 27, 2015 — Conscious of their weak digital infrastructure, the Republic of Congo and Gabon have joined forces to build a modern high-speed Internet network that will enable better access for its citizens. With the support of two projects, CAB3-Congo and CAB4-Gabon, which are jointly financed by the World Bank, these countries will be connected in the near future to the fiber optic submarine cable (African Backbone) that links the African continent to Europe. They will also benefit from a new land network between their two countries. 

Contrary to mobile telephone service, which has taken off in recent years in the Republic of Congo with a 44% subscription rate in 2013, access to Internet services remains unequal, very expensive, and slow.  Now, for the first time, a large portion of the country population will gain access to more affordable and better quality services.

Companies and government will also benefit from this digital modernization.  The joint development of ICTs will in fact foster trade and regional economic integration.  In addition, it will create new economic and social opportunities that will help combat poverty. The project will modernize the Congo Ocean Railway (CFCO) and will develop communication technologies in cities, as well as public and administrative services.  It will also generate employment, particularly among young people who will be employed to carry out these modernizations.

At the groundbreaking ceremony last December, acting World Bank Country Manager Clément Tukéba stressed the fact that “high-speed connectivity is a major catalyst for business competitiveness and burnishing the appeal of Congo in terms of direct investments, given the strong relationship between high speed Internet penetration and GDP growth.”

The Gabonese and Congolese supervisory ministries signed a public contract for the construction of the fiber optic network that will result in the implementation of these two Central African “Internet Backbone” projects (CAB3-Congo and CAB4-Gabon). The objective is to establish, over time, a complete network connecting the entire sub-region. The Ministry of Territorial Planning and the General Public Works Department of Congo is in charge of laying a fiber optic cable that will cross the country from east to west, linking the coastal town of Pointe-Noire to Brazzaville by land. A second connection will be added to connect these lines to the Africa-Europe submarine cable via the Gabonese network, which will begin at the Matoumbi submarine cable landing station and run through the country from north to south, going from Mbinda to Pointe-Noire along the same line as the 520 km Congo Ocean Railway.

The two infrastructure projects will provide the two countries with excellent Internet capacity through a new national public network and a private access supplier will be assigned responsibility for its management and marketing.

A 16-member committee has been established to supervise the construction work and will also determine the rules, regulations, management procedures, and security features of the future network.  Periodic meetings, held in both countries, will also serve to provide the people with information on these two projects and on the benefits they will offer.




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