CSquared, a google internet company will be setting up its headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya. The company comes in with cumulative capital commitments of up to $100 million(Ksh 10 billion) thanks to a joint venture by Google, Convergence Partners, International Finance Corporation (IFC), and Mitsui & Co., Ltd.
The companies have signed an agreement to invest in the broadband infrastructure company which is currently focused on building wholesale metro fiber optic networks to enabling internet access in Africa. CSquared has operational networks in Uganda and Ghana and plans to deploy networks in more countries.
“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.” Marian Croak, Vice-President at Google said in a statement.
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 will, in turn, provide their deep experience in active value-addition investments in the sub-Saharan Africa ICT sector.
IFC’s experience in 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 increase the scale and resources of CSquared in its continued quest to grow access to the Internet across the sub-Saharan region.
The continent lags behind most regions in broadband internet access with only six percent of Africans having access. This makes it difficult for the region to achieve its human and economic potential. In a predominantly wireless environment like Africa, mobile networks depend upon high speed and reliable optical fiber to connect to cellular towers and enable them to provide high quality, wireless broadband services to customers. Fibre is also becoming an increasingly important way for end users to directly access the Internet, especially large businesses, small and medium enterprises (SME), educational institutions, research organizations, and residential estates.
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 Project Link, an initiative to build world-class, high-speed urban fibre networks in Africa’s cities. 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.
“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,” said Isaac J. M. Kasana, CEO of Research and Education Network for Uganda (RENU).