JOHANNESBURG, Nov 10 (Reuters) - French telecoms company Orange launched a new fibre-optic network in West Africa on Tuesday that will deliver superfast broadband and other high-speed telecoms services across a region that is home to over 300 million people.
The network, called Djoliba, couples a 10,000 km cross-border terrestrial fibre optic network with 10,000 km of undersea cables to provide high-speed broadband transmission and seamless connection to Orange’s international networks.
Orange is the dominant telecommunications operator in French-speaking West Africa and says its new network provides cross-border transmission whereas existing infrastructure in the region is national.
The new network straddles Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Nigeria and Senegal.
“Orange is actively contributing to the development of undersea and terrestrial infrastructure, which enable the African continent’s digital transformation, by investing 1 billion euros ($1.18 billion) each year,” said Alioune Ndiaye, Orange CEO for the Middle East and Africa.
Though Africa has seen a rapid expansion of internet penetration, it still lags far behind the rest of the world.
Just 20% of sub-Saharan Africa’s roughly one billion inhabitants are internet users, according to World Bank data. That compares to nearly 90% in North America.
Orange operates in 18 African countries and boasts over 120 million customers.
Jérôme Barré, Orange’s CEO for Wholesale and International Networks, said the company would consider expanding Djoliba to cover more African nations in future. ($1 = 0.8472 euros) (Reporting by Joe Bavier; Editing by Susan Fenton)
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