It’s been five years since Google rolled up Project Link here in Kampala, and this week, it formed a four-way partnership to invest in a wholesale broadband infrastructure project designed to bring fast and reliable internet access to other cities across Africa.
This is an expansion of Project Link, whose aim was to provide local internet service providers (ISPs) or mobile networks access to a more efficient infrastructure. The basic premise is this: Local ISPs roll out new services, such as 4G or public Wi-Fi zones like Roke Telkom, with Google opening access to the “last mile” that links into the more extensive long-distance fiber network connecting countries and continents.
Currently the project has expanded to cover more than 1,600km of fiber networks within five cities across Uganda and Ghana, where several of ISPs and mobile networks offer a range of services. In Uganda, we have Africell, Smile and Roke Telekom using this infrastructure among others.
In comes CSquared and others
In the years since launch, Project Link was quietly rolled into an umbrella corporate brand called CSquared, and today Google has revealed that it’s bringing three strategic partners on board: ICT investment companies Convergence Partners and Mitsui and International Finance Corporation (IFC), which is part of the World Bank Group.
The headquarters of CSquared will be in Nairobi, Kenya, despite the fact that CSquared’s network is currently only active in Uganda and Ghana, more countries are planned for the future, with $100 million worth of “cumulative capital commitments” in place to support the expansion.
“Together with our new partners, we believe CSquared can roll out and operate affordable, high-speed, and reliable infrastructure to further expand internet access in Africa,” explained Marian Croak, Google’s vice president for access strategy and emerging markets.
With Project Link and CSquared, Google is aggressively expanding its efforts to support the underlying internet infrastructure that might possibly, open up new markets for the internet giant’s own online services within the region.