The second phase of a USD210 million project to deploy a 6,700km fibre-optic backbone across Cote d’Ivoire is now underway, communications minister Bruno Nabagne Kone has confirmed to Reuters. The rollout focuses on a 650km link connecting Grand-Bassam and Abidjan in the south-east with the north-eastern town of Bouna, with the work being carried out by Chinese state-owned gear maker China International Telecommunication Construction Corporation (CITCC); the deployment is expected to last around eight months.
Previously, another Chinese telecoms vendor, Huawei, commenced work on the first stage of the project. Last year it deployed a 1,400km cable running through the west of the country from the south-western port city of San Pedro to Ferkessedougou in the central north. The final three stages of deployment, which will connect the country’s central regions, will begin simultaneously in 2014, and are expected to take two years to complete. ‘We should be able to reach a penetration rate of between 20% and 30% in the next three to five years,’ Kone told Reuters.