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Google, partners invest $100 million in CSquared internet access project

BY: Kweku Zurek
Google

American multinational technology company, Google in collaboration with Convergence Partners, International Finance Corporation, and Mitsui have announced a $100 million investment in CSquared, a broadband infrastructure company focused on building wholesale metro fibre optic networks and enabling internet access in Africa.

According to the agreement which is subject to customary closing conditions, CSquared will continue a broadband access project that Google started as Project Link in Uganda and Ghana.

The partners further stressed that the investment is an affirmation of their shared vision to meet the continent’s high demand for quality networks and internet access.

In 2011, Google identified a major barrier to more affordable, reliable broadband in Africa: the lack of fibre optic networks in major cities. 

This led to the creation of Project Link, an initiative to build world-class, high-speed urban fibre networks in Africa’s metropolises.


In 2013, Google folded these efforts under a new company brand called CSquared with the aim of expanding access and lowering costs. CSquared built more than 800 km of fibre in Kampala and Entebbe, in Uganda; and more than 840 km of fibre in the Ghanaian cities of Accra, Tema, and Kumasi.

"Collectively over 25 ISPs and MNOs now use these metro fibre networks to offer broadband services and 4G data to end users, with over 1,200 tower and commercial building sites connected directly to CSquared’s fibre infrastructure," the statement said.

CSquared will now be headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya and funded with cumulative capital commitments up to $100 million from its partners.

The partnership will combine Google’s technical knowledge and expertise in deploying and operating wholesale metro infrastructure in Uganda and Ghana through Project Link with the additional capital, skills, and reach from all four investors.

"Convergence Partners ’ deep experience of active, value adding investing in the ICT sector in sub-Saharan Africa, IFC's experience spanning over 40 years supporting the development of the telecommunications sector in Africa, as well as Mitsui ’s cross-industry capabilities, vast investment portfolio and global business presence, and its experience as a strategic investor in the ICT sector , will significantly bolster the scale and resources of CSquared in its continued quest to grow access to the Internet across the entire sub-Saharan region," the statement said.

Marian Croak, Vice-President at Google said, “We believe that together under CSquared, we can get more done to roll-out and operate affordable, high-speed, and reliable infrastructure to expand internet access in Africa. Project Link has demonstrated the impact of shared wholesale infrastructure, and we’re excited to see CSquared bring more infrastructure to more service providers and their customers.”

Isaac J. M. Kasana, CEO of Research and Education Network for Uganda ( RENU) stated, “Research collaboration among universities in Uganda is important. Project Link and now CSquared gives us capacity that is well-priced for local collaboration, and provides us with a network that is scalable and easy to upgrade.”

Praveen Sadalage, CEO of Busy, said, “With CSquared, we are consistently able to meet and exceed our consumer and business customer expectations of reliability and quality, and this is helping us grow and position ‘Busy’ as THE preferred 4G data access provider.”

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