HomeAccessBayobab to manage Central African Republic fibre infrastructure 

    Bayobab to manage Central African Republic fibre infrastructure 


    The MTN subsidiary will sell wholesale Internet services to the country’s telecom operators 

    Bayobab, has secured a contract to manage, operate, and maintain the national fibre optic infrastructure of the Central African Republic (CAR). 

    The 15-month public-private partnership contract aims to improve connectivity in the country by providing wholesale internet services to telecommunications operators such as Orange, Télécel and Moov. 

    In May, MTN GlobalConnect rebranded as Bayobab and comprises two businesses – Bayobab Fibre and Bayobab Communication Platforms. Since announcing the rebrand, Bayobab and Africa50 have signed a partnership to develop Project East2West, a terrestrial fibre optic cable network connecting the eastern shores of Africa to those on the continent’s west. 

    That Africa50 partnership will invest up to $320 million connecting ten African countries over the years between now and 2025 and will contribute to Bayobab reaching MTN Group’s target of owning 135,000km fibre over the coming three years. 

    Bayobab has taken over the CAR project nearly six months after its official inauguration and interconnection with its neighbour, the Republic of Congo, in February. The deal was signed by the country’s posts and telecommunications minister, Justin Gourna Zacko and Bayobab CEO and chairman Frederic Schepens. 

    Since its deployment in 2018, the project has received technical and financial support from the European Union and the African Development Bank Group and it is part of the larger Central African Backbone project which will connect Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Republic of Congo and São Tomé and Príncipe. 

    Landlocked and lagging 

    The landlocked country has faced a number of challenges and in-fighting that eventually saw CAR President Faustin-Archange Touadera, who was first elected in 2016, and won re-election in 2020, turn to Russia for help to tackle the rebel groups. 

    Touadera is currently on the campaign trail for the constitutional referendum which, if passed, could remove a two-term presidential limit and enable him run again (and again). The referendum excitement has attracted a number of Russian tourists.  

    Meanwhile CAR’s citizens may not have noticed, given the internet penetration rate in the country is only around 10.6%. Datareportal statistics show that CAR was home to 117,000 cellular mobile active connections in January 2023, equating to only 2.1% of the total population. 

    The minimum price for 2GB of mobile data is estimated to be 41% of the average monthly income per capita, far from the 2% target advocated by the Broadband Commission, according to Ecofin