Facebook, together with an internet company called Liquid Intelligent Technologies (you might have known them as Liquid Telecoms, once upon a time), is laying some 2,000km of fibre across the African continent. The project, which is designed to (eventually) extend the 2Africa undersea cable (that Facebook is also partly responsible for), will stretch from the central area of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to the eastern border of Rwanda.
Facebook… really wants new users
We’re sure you’ve got a ruler or a measuring tape somewhere, and you’ve also looked at a map before. 2,000km isn’t a short distance but it’s hardly enough to stretch all the way across the African continent, as our sarcastic little header image shows. It uses Kabare in the DRC as a central point, so everything at the edge of the circle is about 2,000km away. But it doesn’t matter that Facebook’s project is a relatively small one, seen against the scale of the continent and its needs — it’s a start.
The project, whatever the data-hungry corporation’s actual motivations (we know, we know, they want more data) are, won’t be built on a straight line but it will bring more reliable internet access to parts of Africa that could use it. Facebook’s director of network investments in emerging markets, Ibrahima Ba, said, “We know that deploying fibre in this region is not easy, but it is a crucial part of extending broadband access to under-connected areas.”
Some 5,000 people will be employed by the project, according to reports, with Liquid Intelligent Technologies owning and operating the infrastructure once it’s in place. Which makes a kind of sense. The social network doesn’t really bother with the pipes, just the stuff that comes out of it.