Ketraco, Liquid Telecom in 15-year deal to extend internet to Somalia, Ethiopia and Uganda

Kenya Electricity Transmission Company (Ketraco) and Liquid Telecom have signed an agreement to extend affordable internet to Somalia, Ethiopia and Uganda.

As part of the deal, Liquid Telecom will lease Ketraco’s electricity transmission lines to carry internet traffic from the undersea cables that terminate at the port of Mombasa to the rest of East Africa.

The partnership aims to provide connectivity to Somalia and Ethiopia by early 2019. “Our part is to bring equipment to commercialize the services. We want to connect the existing 2000 kilometers of Ketraco fibre to our over 1,000 plus fibre network to deliver reliable internet,” said, Adil Youssefi, Liquid Telecom Kenya CEO.

(TOP: Adil Youssefi, Liquid Telecom Kenya CEO – left – and James Rege, the Ketraco chairman, during the deal signing event).

The success of our nation is inextricably dependant on our digital economy. Our success depends on our ability to do business not only locally but competing in the global markets as well. It depends on our ability to connect with each other, to make discoveries, to learn and shop online, to take full advantage of services offered by the cyberspace.

Some parts of our country are well connected to fibre optic cables. A bigger chunk still left in the dark sunset of low or no internet connectivity. Yet to have every Kenyan enjoy the bright sunlight of internet opportunities, we must open up the rural areas to the 21st century realities.

Liquid Telecom plans to invest at least US $7 million to commercialise the electricity transmission lines. Under the 15-year agreement, Ketraco will retain 60 percent of the revenues collected, with Liquid Telecom retaining 40 percent. Youssefi said that in phase one, they will energise 1,500 km of Ketraco electricity lines.

The first and most urgent of all is internet connectivity for the rural Kenyans. This will go a long way in ensuring the fruits of the President’s Big Four agenda are enjoyed by all Kenyans including the rural folks. We require reliable ICT solutions to promote attainment of food security, affordable housing, and manufacturing and universal health care.

KETRACO runs an electricity transmission grid of 2,315 kilometres and is poised to cover 8,000 kilometres of high voltage transmission lines with concurrent fibre connectivity. To maximise on the efficiency of this infrastructure, there could have been no better firm for the Company to partner with than Liquid Telecom. Liquid Telecom will manage the fibre optic component of our transmission network for the next 15 years.

KETRACO and Liquid telecom’s partnership will create access to villages and individuals to faster, cheaper broadband to make them succeed in the digital economy. Local businesses that are already witnessing some growth will be able to participate in the global economy. A small businessman will compete with and outdo the multinationals. The local fish dealer will be able to export her fish to London and easily monitor the location of her goods and the proceeds will be great. With reliable internet, anything is possible.

The partnership will also help students access the online courses that can aid in pursuing their dreams. The youth in need of employment opportunities will be easily linked to jobs from all corners of our country to the cities and towns of other nations. Better connectivity wilfacilitate growth of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and strengthen security surveillance within our borders and beyond.

The internet has created new jobs, today through your laptop and phones, accessing banking services is now a reality yet the best is still to come Kenyan people.

“I’ve seen first-hand where doctors have created applications to better serve Kenyans by linking any Kenyan to the best doctors and medical services. That during an emergency, say of a two-year old kid that just got chocked, you can get direct access to a doctor without unnecessary bureaucracies. Farmers too have not been left behind. Our farmers are amazing individuals. What they did is that they realized they had low proceeds due to lack of knowledge and inaccessible markets. And so to penetrate, they came together and created platforms that would link them to international markets said,” James Rege, Chairman KETRACO.

KETRACO, a parastatal incorporated in December 2008, has the mandate is to plan, design,construct, own, operate and maintain high voltage electricity transmission grid and regional power interconnectors. The infrastructure forms the backbone of the National Transmission Grid, in line with Kenya Vision 2030; with the aim of shielding electricity consumers from the higher retail tariffs.

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