Equiano: Togo needs €300M to deploy fiber on its power lines

Tuesday, 29 March 2022 17:41
Equiano: Togo needs €300M to deploy fiber on its power lines

(Togo First) - Togo plans to fiberize all its power lines, now that it is connected to Google's Equiano submarine cable, which will be operational in the fourth quarter of this year.

“Our cost-effective strategy is to deploy fiber infrastructure on power lines. One of the costs of deploying fiber is digging the ground and burying the cable deep. Instead of doing that, we will deploy the cables on poles that host electric lines. Imagine when you tell a resident that you will give them high-speed internet with their electricity at affordable prices." Cina Lawson, Minister of the Digital Economy, told the business media Quartz in an interview.

To undertake its plan, Lomé needs at least €300 million, according to the minister who said: "We are talking with lenders to raise €300 million to put fiber on all electrical lines.”

CSquared Woezon at the helm

CSquared Woezon, a joint venture formed by CSquared (owned by Google, IFC, Convergent Partners, and Mitsui), on the one hand, and the Société d'Infrastructures Numériques (SIN), 100% owned by the State, on the other hand, will steer the project.

Established to manage Equiano’s landing station, CSquared Woezon will also be in charge of deploying optical fiber on domestic high-voltage power lines and those linking Togo to its neighboring countries, notably Ghana, Burkina Faso, and Benin.

According to the World Bank, the CEB (Communauté électrique du Bénin) has a 438 km transmission network equipped with dark fiber (inactivated optical fiber) in Togo, and more than 1,000 km with neighboring countries such as Benin and Ghana. 

Lowering costs 

The penetration rate of the internet in Togo is 23% and raising it is one of the government’s priorities–two-thirds of key projects falling under its roadmap include a digital component. The country, in line with the Togo Digital program, aims to become a digital hub by 2030, notably by supplying internet at lower costs but with higher quality. The program, Lomé hopes, will make the country more competitive than its neighbors. According to a study commissioned by Google as part of the Equiano project, Africa Practice and Genesis have estimated that with the new cable, retail Internet access prices should drop by 14%. 

The private sector and the government are expected to both contribute to the last-mile phase of the project

“Togo has approximately 1.2 million households. If we deploy our plan, at least 500,000 households and 50,000 enterprises will be connected to fiber-optic networks. So I am talking about one vision that will transform all of Togo,” Lawson told Quartz.

To achieve this ambition, the minister counts on the active participation of the private sector, while emphasizing that the State must remain the master of the game.

For the last-mile phase of the project, "we want to de-risk the project as the government by contributing financing, to make sure price points are low. If it’s entirely led by the private sector, they will need a return on investment which may lead to high prices," said Cina Lawson.

In Togo, several agreements exist between mobile operators, ISPs, and utilities for the deployment of the Internet throughout the country. These include the agreement signed by TogoCom and GVA (Canalbox) with CEET, allowing these operators to use the electricity distribution company's towers to provide fiber to the home (FTTH). 

E-gouv also becomes part of Csquared Woezon

The e-Gouv network, whose implementation was financed in large part by China, and which already connects 560 public buildings, including the University of Lomé, is now part of this joint venture owned by Mauritius (56% ), and the Togolese state through the SIN (44%).

Fiacre E. Kakpo

To contact us: c o n t a c t [@] t o g o f i r s t . c o m

Please publish modules in offcanvas position.