Kathy Gibson is at ITU Telecom World in Durban – Liquid Telecom has gone live with a “Cape to Cairo” network that links 13 countries and 660 towns along the length of the continent.

Currently, pan-African trade accounts for just 18% of the continent’s business; and a network like this is expected to help stimulate additional trade, says Reshaad Sha, CEO of Liquid Telecom South Africa.

“Our network has helped to form new information corridors that link the region’s major trade hubs,” he adds.

Countries that are connected to the network typically experience an increase in data traffic with other connected countries and will help to faciiiate the intra-Africa free trade agreement concluded recently,  he adds.

The company has grown by rolling out its own infrastructure as well as through partnerships with other fibre providers. Liquid Telecom is directly present in nine of the 13 countries covered and partners in the other four.

The final leg of the network has been made possible with the recent memorandum of understanding with Telecom Egypt, which extends the network from the border of Sudan to Egypt.

“This network complements the submarine cable,” Sha points out. “The terrestrial rout offers some advantages such as lower latency, which we think business customers will find interesting.”

The network, covering the 10 000km between Cape Town and Cairo, spans 60 000 km of fibre.

The network services the eastern part of the continent, but the central and western regions are next on the agenda, Sha says.