Liberia on Friday officially launched the Africa Cost to Europe or (ACE) project under the West Africa Regional Communication Infrastructure Program or WARCIP.
Speaking at the head of Liberia’s Telecommunications Authority or LTA, Angelique Weeks said the US25m project is a public private initiative with the public owning 60 percent while Libtelco, LoneStar-MTN and Cellcom own 20, 10 and 10 percent respectively.
WARCIP which was developed by the World Bank as a means of developing greater regional economic and infrastructural integration, Mrs. Weeks said is intended to address the connectivity gap within the sub-region and the rest of the world.
The LTA boss said WARCIP under the LTA is intended to increase the geographic reach and lower the cost of telecommunications services here by taking advantage of the ACE submarine cable.
The ACE cable is to connect over 20 countries along the West Coast of Africa via a 17,000km fiber optic cable. The ACE cable is also expected to provide capacity of some 1.92 Tbps (upgradable to 5.12Tbps), something more than sufficient for Liberia’s present and immediate future needs.
To manage the cable landing here, Mrs. Weeks said a Public Private Partnership or PPP, the Cable Consortium of Liberia or CCL has been established between the Government, Libtelco, Lonestar and Cellcom.
The Government intends to divest itself of its shareholding by providing connectivity to public universities, hospitals and other institutions to permit development of E-medicin, E-business and other developmental initiatives in conformity with the ICT policy and the project development objective.
In a statement, Acting Country Manager and Senior Operations Officer of the World Bank, Coleen Littlejohn said the lack of access to low price and high quality telecommunications services is one of the factors that presently limit the country’s potential to create jobs, expand production of goods and services, and trade competitively with the rest of the world.
She said poor telecommunications services here are presently a major obstacle to the social and economic development of the country, adding that “the lack of access to an international submarine cable, coupled with the absence of national connectivity backbone has resulted in low bandwidth and high price of Internet service, which prevents Liberia from benefiting from advanced ICT enabled applications.”
However, she stated that Liberia’s connection to the ACE submarine cable represents a unique opportunity for Liberia, which has missed out on earlier opportunities to connect to existing global submarine fiber cable systems.
The World Bank acting manager said the WARCIP recognizes that the creation of a competitive, enabling environment in the sector is a prerequisite for affordable connectivity and ensuring an open and non-discriminatory access to capacity. She added that the success of the project is intended to reduce communications cost here which is currently ten times higher than that of East Africa.