A scramble to connect more people in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to the internet is emerging, with infrastructure and service companies viewing the country as a potentially lucrative market that can also act as a point of connectivity into East and West Africa.
Intelsat is the latest internet and communications company to deepen its coverage of internet in the DRC through its Cell Backhaul platform.
The Intelsat Backhaul service will “extend coverage to more people in the DRC” with “any cell tower anywhere in the DRC” now able to be connected, the company said Wednesday.
“Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) of any size can offer mobile broadband coverage to remote and rural areas – connecting more subscribers, land areas, roadways, and IOT devices,” Intelsat said in a statement.
In pursuit of this, the communications company has roped in local company, HCI, to deploy its connectivity platform from the capital, Kinshasa.
According to the Borgen Project, internet access in the DRC “has been almost non-existent” for the past 10 years.
However, owing to various projects that are being spearheaded by telecommunications and internet companies, the DRC has “seen a steady increase” in internet access although large parts of the country still lack access to the internet.
“Mobile connectivity has increased by 1 million (3.1%) from January 2019 to January 2020. This increase still means that 60% of the DRC’s total population does not have a mobile connection via the internet. Social media accounts have increased by 680,000 (28% increase) from April 2019 to January 2020,” noted the Borgen Project in a report.
Liquid CEO Nick Rudnick said that the company is connecting mobile towers across Africa to its fibre connectivity platforms. This will broaden internet reach to many people in Africa.
However, access to broadband across Africa remains low, with many people still connecting to the internet via mobile broadband which is considered to be expensive compared to fibre.