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MTN's Bayobab to manage Central African Republic fiber infrastructure

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Bayobab, a subsidiary of Pan-African operator MTN that specializes in telecom infrastructure operations, has secured a contract to manage, operate, and maintain the national fiber optic infrastructure of the Central African Republic.

This public-private partnership contract aims to improve connectivity in the country by providing wholesale Internet services to telecommunications operators such as Orange, Télécel and Moov.

Under the 15-month agreement – signed by the country's posts and telecommunications minister, Justin Gourna Zacko, and Bayobab CEO and Chairman Frederic Schepens – Bayobab will sell wholesale Internet services to the country's telecom operators.

Bayobab, which recently rebranded from MTN GlobalConnect, takes over the project nearly six months after its official inauguration and interconnection with its neighbor, the Republic of Congo, in February, 2023.

Bayobab will sell wholesale Internet services to telecoms operators in the Central African Republic.   (Source: Image by Freepik.)
Bayobab will sell wholesale Internet services to telecoms operators in the Central African Republic.
(Source: Image by Freepik.)

Since its deployment in 2018, the project has received technical and financial support from the European Union (EU) and the African Development Bank Group (AfDB) and it is part of a larger Central African Backbone (CAB) project.

This initiative aims to reduce Internet access costs and stimulate digital inclusion by offering quality services at affordable prices for the population.

CAR's Internet penetration lags

The landlocked country has been facing significant challenges in terms of Internet access and connectivity.

Even though there has been rapid growth of the Internet worldwide, the CAR has lagged.

However, recent initiatives present opportunities for the country to bridge the digital divide.

Statistics from Datareportal show that there were 599,700 Internet users in the Central African Republic at the start of 2023, which is an Internet penetration rate of just 10.6%.

Datareportal also recorded that the Central African Republic was home to 117,000 cellular mobile active connections in January 2023, equating to only 2.1% of the total population.

Internet users in the Central African Republic increased by 2.9% between 2022 and 2023, according to Kepios analysis.

The fiber deal follows MTN's recent involvement in landing Google's Equiano subsea cable in South Africa last year.

Major subsea cable systems like Meta's 2Africa and Google-backed Equiano are likely to be game-changers for African telecoms.

However, while the undersea systems bring fast broadband to coastal cities, inland cables are needed to connect landlocked countries, hence contracts like the one in CAR are important.

Related posts:

*Top image is of the Central African Republic national flag. (Source: Image by rawpixel.com on Freepik.)

— Matshepo Sehloho, Associate Editor, Connecting Africa

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