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Huawei & ATU to ramp up fiber connectivity

Huawei technologies today announced a partnership with the Africa Telecommunications Union to raise the tempo of transferring services to the digital sphere over the next eight years.

Kenya was among the member countries attending the AfricaCom 2022 conference in Cape Town South Africa where the ICT Ministers and their representatives signed a joint communique agreeing to institute measurable initiatives in the development of their digital economies.

The relationship is expected to contribute to the overall investment in equipment, human resources and processes necessary to make a successful digital transition.

In a statement sent to media houses, Huawei President of Sub-Saharan Africa, Leo Chen, said reducing the connectivity gap is a top priority area, focusing on the speed of infrastructure set up despite the seemingly daunting financial resources required for the venture.

The meeting heard that for the African countries to fully transition to digital economies by the year 2030, they will have to ramp up their investments in physical infrastructure and human capacity training to the tune of Sh10 trillion.

Chen, said that nearly 80 percent of all required investments are directly related to the need to roll out and maintain broadband networks.

However, he noted that connecting the unconnected is about more than just infrastructure noting, about 20 percent of required investments consists in building the user skills and local content foundations, and another 2-4 percent should be allocated to setting up the appropriate regulatory framework.

“It comprises three major elements of digital transformation including digital infrastructure, digital services and digital skills that if done correctly will link the unconnected people to government, services and businesses, fully unleash their productivity, and develop the digital economy,” explained Leo Chen, noting that Kenya for instance plans to lay an additional 100,000 km of fiber optic cable over the next ten years.

Echoing his comments, the General Secretary of the Africa Telecommunications Union (ATU)John Omo, noted that digital transformation remains a key driver of inclusive economic growth, job creation, the improvement of public service delivery, and the optimization of business services in Africa.

“Africa needs funding for digital innovation to spill over into all segments of business and society if we are to strengthen our digital economy. This is because the infrastructure is expensive, with 1 kilometer of fiber optic cable costing about Sh3million. For Africa to add just 500,000 kilometers of fiber connectivity, we need Sh1.5trillion,” he said, adding that no one, in the public or private sector, has the capacity to do this alone.

Omo pointed out that through the power of investment and regulation, Africa can craft a framework that will give effect to the growth and development needed saying that while financial resources required to successfully manage the transition looked insurmountable, there is a renewed sense of hope that the ambition remains achievable.

The conference themed ‘Rise Stronger with Digital Economy: New Paths towards a Resilient Recovery and Growth’, set out recommendations for African countries to accelerate the digital transformation of their economies, leading to full provision of government services online.

It is estimated that a total of 1.1 million kilometres of fiber internet cable has been laid across Africa with half of this being deployed by private Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) while 40 percent translating to 450,000 kilometres, is publicly-owned.

This includes government networks, state-owned enterprises (SOEs), and utilities. However, this publicly-owned fiber connectivity is only partially used to deliver services to citizens.

By Catherine Muindi


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