News / Africa

DRC Misses Deadline for High Speed Internet

Locals surf the web at an Internet cafe in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo. - VOA/ Nick Long
Locals surf the web at an Internet cafe in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo. - VOA/ Nick Long
TEXT SIZE - +
KINSHASA - Africa's Internet users had something to celebrate this month. A total of 13 West African countries have just hooked up to a new underwater fiber optic cable running from Cape Town to London, bringing them better phone connections and a new high speed Internet link. But one country, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), missed the boat bringing the cable ashore.

DRC Misses Deadline for High Speed Internet - Nick Long
DRC Misses Deadline for High Speed Internet - Nick Longi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X

Officially, the Democratic Republic Congo is about four months behind schedule to connect to the West African Cable System (WACS).  This is not the first time the DRC has missed out on a high speed Internet link.

As Internet user Didier Bobange tries to download a document at his local cybercafé in Kinshasa, he has plenty of time to reflect on his country's position in the cyberspace race.
 
"So we don't know how long we wait for it to come…you know. I was in Benin Republic 10 years ago and the connection [there] was far better than we have here today in Kinshasa," recalled Bobange.

High speed Internet would be a blessing for Congo's businesses, researchers and even doctors who could make long distance diagnoses. It's past time they had it, says Laurent Ntumba, founder of the local Internet service provider Microcom.

"There are many [fiber optic] cables in Africa. There are maybe seven or eight, and we're not connected. It's unacceptable," said Ntumba.

In fact, he says, a fiber optic link between Muanda on the DRC's Atlantic coast and Kinshasa could have been switched on years ago.

"The cable from Muanda to Kinshasa [has] already [been installed] underground three years now - we can use it," added Ntumba.

But they cannot connect to the international line until the government has given permission, paid its dues to the cable consortium and builds a landing station at the coast. And, that is taking some time. It was a similar story in other countries, but the Congo has taken the longest time.

The immediate reason why the Congo is not linked to WACS is that the cable landing station was not built to the right standards. Local media report that the company contracted to build it had never done this kind of job before.

They also report that $3 million of government funds for the contract went missing last year and the former director-general of the national telecoms company, SCPT, was charged with high treason and jailed for three months in connection with the affair.

The scandal came to light after SCPT employees protested plans to create a private company, Congo Cable, to manage fiber optic connections.

Jean Paul Kamalata, a union representative for the telecoms sector, says this is unacceptable to cut out SCPT employees from the future revenues when they are already owed years in back pay. He also told said that the union has other valid concerns.

Kamalata says he campaigned against the plan to create Congo Cable because he believes international telecom links are vital to a country's security and you cannot entrust a country's security to a private company.
 
The government seems to have dropped the idea of creating a new company to manage the cable.

Microcom's Ntumba thinks it was not a bad idea in principle. He says the SCPT will need competent private sector partners to install and maintain the fiber optic network.

"Managing the cable is not something easy. You need to have the knowledge, you need all the support, and I don't know if the SCPT has this level of competence," Ntumba explained.

Ntumba is also doubtful about the government's plan for the next stage, which is to lay 2,000 kilometers of cable from Kinshasa to Lubumbashi in the southeast corner of the country. He suggests it would be quicker and cheaper to connect Lubumbashi to Zambia's fiber optic cable, and other eastern cities to cables from Rwanda and Uganda. The money saved could be spent on laying connections within big cities.

But many Congolese would oppose the idea of connecting eastern cities via Rwanda, a country that was at war with the DRC from 1998 to 2003.

The current director general of the SCPT, Placide Mbatika, said that deals have already been signed with Ex-Im Bank China and a Chinese contractor to lay the 2,000 kilometer cable, although there will still be a need for investors for subsequent phases.

Mbatika says the country is open to all investors for the fiber optic program. He says that thanks to President Joseph Kabila's intervention, SCPT now has political backing, competent management and a committed workforce. He predicts that the first phase of the project, landing the cable and connecting it to Kinshasa, will be finished by the end of August.

Local media say that any further delays could jeopardize the Congo's chances of hosting the next summit of French speaking countries, scheduled to be held in Kinshasa in October.

You May Like

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

Turkish Law Gives Spy Agency Controversial Powers

Parliament approves legislation to bolster powers of intelligence service, which government claims is necessary to modernize and deal with new threats Turkey faces More

Video Face of American Farmer Changing

Average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Faraja Amri sa-rang Lacey from: DRCongo, Goma
June 01, 2012 8:16 AM
What can we expect from darkside bonds that have taken shelter in the Country? We're hopelessly waiting for this briliant idea to be implemented. It can be of course and then days afterwards? The viability performances lacking in all areas of projects implementation will make the project to close down within a short of time. Let white people take top ministy's positions in the country so that they can enforce applicability measures of their decisions on the ground by severely punishing leading looters in order to saving dying local populations. We've failed to set matters right.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Face of American Farmer is Changingi
X
Mike Osborne
April 18, 2014
The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid