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West Africa’s Djoliba backbone launched

During the AfricaTech Festival, part of the AfricaCom 2020 virtual event, French telecommunications firm Orange and its subsidiaries announced the commissioning and commercial launch of Djoliba, the first pan-African backbone.

This infrastructure is based on a terrestrial fibre optic network, coupled with undersea cables, offering secure connectivity abroad from West Africa.

Operated and maintained from Dakar for greater efficiency, responsiveness and proximity, it has a dedicated supervision centre and covers eight countries: Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Nigeria and Senegal.

Natively interconnected with the domestic networks within the countries, this broad coverage will generalise access to connectivity for operators and companies, Orange affirms.

Until now, telecommunications networks in West Africa were built inside each country, up to its borders: there was no cross-border network. To provide a service between two capitals, operators had to integrate the offers of several providers and join several different networks which were interconnected at the borders.

Djoliba is the first network that offers complete security in West Africa with more than 10,000 km of terrestrial fibre optic network, coupled with 10,000 km of undersea cables, superfast broadband provision (up to 100 Gbit/s) and a 99.99% availability rate. This network covers 16 points of presence with a grid of nearly 155 technical sites, and connects 300 points of presence in Europe, America and Asia.

It is based on Orange’s Tier 1 network and therefore provides a seamless connection to the Group’s international networks.

By using the Djoliba network’s superfast broadband transmission, the network's new customers will be able to access the Group’s platforms and benefit from the whole range of offers marketed by Orange in Africa: IP transit, mobile service platforms, hosting in Orange datacentres in Africa, VPN, etc.

Alioune Ndiaye, CEO Orange Middle East and Africa said this is the first very high-speed fibre optic network in West Africa.

“As a multiservice operator and partner in digital transformation, we are convinced that developing digital access is critical for Africa. Connectivity, especially high-speed, is a real accelerator of growth. Research carried out by the United Nations and other organisations, has showed that the connectivity has increased by more than 1 point per inhabitant and of course, very high speed networks provide enormous opportunities for economies. In terms of the infrastructure in each country and also internationally, Orange’s strategy is to be a major player for all development possible and Djoliba is proof of our commitment to developing our presence in Africa.”

Ndiaye added that according to the GSMA, there were more than 350-million mobile internet users at the end of 2019, twenty times more than fifteen years ago. “But the difference across countries concerned remains enormous. Landlocked countries, as well as poor or highly unstable countries have extremely limited access to the internet, compared to the more developed countries. Likewise, in rural areas – where 60% of the population lives, and in urban areas, there is a key difference.”

He continued: “Orange is actively contributing to the development of undersea and terrestrial infrastructure which enable the African continent’s digital transformation, by investing 1 billion euros each year. With Djoliba, local populations will be able to access healthcare or educational services more easily, as well as the applications offered by cloud computing. Development of access to digital technology is a key challenge for Africa and I would like to congratulate our teams in all the countries for their remarkable work that has enabled the Djoliba project to come to fruition.”

Jérôme Barré, CEO Orange Wholesale & International Networks, said: “With Djoliba, Orange is once again confirming its expertise and leadership in the deployment and operation of international terrestrial and undersea networks. Consequently, all the operators, companies and institutions in West Africa now benefit from seamless connectivity that is open to the whole world, thanks to a single customer point of contact and unparalleled service availability. Djoliba is the fruit of a group effort, and thanks to a fully mobilised cross-functional team, we have been able to meet this sizeable challenge. This human adventure illustrates the Orange Group’s strength, both due to its local presence through its subsidiaries and its capacity to build shared international assets.”

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