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Orange to officially announce Djoliba fibre network launch

French telecommunications firm Orange has issued a statement detailing arrangements to officially announce the launch of Djoliba, described by the company as ‘the first pan-African fibre optic network’.

Recently the company released a brief statement confirming a media conference, scheduled for 10 November, and involving Orange Chairman and CEO Stéphane Richard, Alioune Ndiaye, CEO Orange Middle East and Africa; Jérôme Barrre, CEO Orange Wholesale & International Networks; Mamadou Bamba, CEO for Orange Côte d'Ivoire, as well as Sékou Drame, CEO for Sonatel Group.

According to some media outlets, the new West African backbone network will connect several cities including Dakar, Bamako, Abidjan, Accra and Lagos.

Orange also posted some details about the backbone via Twitter in June.

The company is present in 18 countries in Africa and the Middle East, and claims to have 124 million customers as at 30 June 2020.

The telecommunications services provider has continued to focus on network infrastructure provision in Africa, via its subsidiaries, to directly interconnect African operators.

Recently Orange reaffirmed its support of the One Africa Network (OAN) project, announcing the creation of two new international voice Points of Presence (PoP) in Lagos.

Ndiaye commented: “We are working hard to promote the emergence of a dynamic digital society, a key driver of African development. From this year, Orange will endeavour to keep African traffic in Africa.”

In September, during the GSMA’s Thrive Africa 2020 event, Chairman and CEO Richard raised the issue of the usage divide or residents who are covered by mobile networks but who do not access the internet.

He said 520 million people in Africa fall into this category, mainly because of the high cost of smart devices and mobile services, and that content made available through these devices is not always relevant and/or users do not have the skill sets to take advantage of the technology.

“On a global level 7% of world’s population lacks mobile broadband coverage, less than six hundred million people, whereas in SSA, the gap is currently almost 30% of the population. The lack of internet excludes individuals from opportunities to overcome the social and economic impact of the current crisis. It also limits the ability of governments to effectively manage the pandemic and its economic fallout. If we don’t take action now, we run the risk of reinforcing existing inequalities in the digital world and further marginalising vulnerable people.”

COVID-19 impact

While there is continued focus on telecommunications infrastructure development, including datacentres, on the continent, there is still concern over the impact of COVID-19 on Africa’s technical progress.

In May this year Dobek Pater, Director: Business Development at Africa Analysis, said it was difficult to predict exactly what the impact of COVID-19 would be on Africa's ICT and telecommunications, but the overall outlook did not look good.

“Given the wide-spread ‘job security’ we see in Africa (as opposed to Europe, for instance), we may see formal unemployment rise, particularly once countries go into lockdowns. A lockdown would also have a negative impact on informal workers or traders. This would result in a rapid deterioration of an already precarious financial position of the population / workforce and probably a reduction in spend on telecoms services (e.g., mobile voice and data). This would be limited to necessary or emergency communication only. This would result in lower revenue for the operators and service providers.”

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