LTA, Cable Consortium of Liberia Sign Digital Partnership Agreement
Monrovia –The Liberia Telecommunication Authority (LTA) and Csquared Tuesday signed a partnership agreement that grants Csquaared a license to deployed fiber optic cables everywhere and anywhere in Liberia.
Madam Edwina Crump Zackpah signed on behalf of the LTA; while Madam Estelle Akofio Sowah signed on behalf of Csquared. The partnership agreement has come as a big deal to the LTA which grants license to an infrastructure service provider Csquared.
“LTA has amended Csquared’s license allowing them to deployed fiber optic cables everywhere and anywhere within the republic of Liberia,” the LTA acting chair stated.
Madam Estelle Akofio Sowah who is Csquared West Africa regional manager said the company’s desire to invest in Liberia is driven by the demand for ICT in the country and its long standing stability and friendly business environment.
Research has shown that despite it relatively small population, Liberia has an active and competitive telecommunications sector. The main players include two System for Mobile Communications (GSM) network operators, Lonestar Cell MTN and Orange Liberia (formerly Cellcom).
Both invest in network infrastructures and services. They use GSM, 3G/4G, and WiMAX technology private Global to provide a wide array of services including voice/SMS, fixed-wireless, and mobile data/internet services to the mass market, and value-added services for government and private sector organizations.
The GSM network operators compete for customers by offering services over their wireless networks. Competition between them led to price reductions for voice and data services and prompted the regulator to establish a tariff floor.
The government-owned national telecom, Liberia Telecommunications Corporation (Libtelco), provides telephone, internet, fax, and radio services to mostly government offices, schools, and other large facilities in the Monrovia area. Libtelco is the principal provider of fixed line telephone service to the government. In October 2020, the Liberia Telecommunications Authority (LTA) granted Libtelco a license to offer GSM mobile network services after the Liberian legislature amended the 2007 Telecommunications Law. Libtelco now competes with the two private service providers in providing mobile voice and data services.
Mobile and internet use continues to grow due to increased investment by the GSMs throughout the country. According to the Digital Liberia 2020 report, mobile connections increased by 995,000 or 32 percent between January 2019 and January 2020.
The report said that in January 2020, there were 4.13 million connections; increases in mobile connections are spiked by many people, mainly the wealthy, having multiple connections. Internet penetration was 12 percent in January 2020, equating to 624,000 internet users in the country. In the mobile sector, competition led to some of the lowest call prices in Africa, but with the price floor, prices have increased to a minimum of $0.0156 per minute for a voice call and $0.0218 per megabyte for data.
The Cable Consortium of Liberia (CCL) is a public-private partnership created by the Government of Liberia through Libtelco and the two mobile network operators Lonestar Cell MTN and Orange Liberia.
The CCL supports the supply of high-speed internet via fiber optic submarine cable to Liberia as part of the overall submarine cable system called ACE (Africa Coast to Europe) consortium. Internet and broadband networks are available through several commercial wireless internet service providers (ISPs) as well as the main GSM mobile networks using GPRS, EDGE, HSPA, and WiMAX technologies. The high subscription cost and limited bandwidth of connections means that internet access is expensive and data rates are low.
Liberia’s telecommunications sector is experiencing substantial improvement through international fiber optic submarine cable, benefitting more than 80 commercial and diplomatic locations. Moving beyond these clients, however, would require considerable investment in domestic fixed-line infrastructure.
The Liberian government, in partnership with U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and Google, continues to invest in building a fiber ring around Monrovia and its environs to increase broadband penetration. In 2017, Google entered a joint venture with Mitsui & Co (Japan), Convergence Partners (South Africa), and the World Bank International Finance Corp. to create an independent company called CSquared to complete this project.
CSquared signed a licensing agreement with Liberia Telecommunications Authority in 2021. When complete, the quality of internet service and accessibility to rural areas will increase internet subscribers. However, mobile operators face major constraints including the high cost of electricity, poor national infrastructure such as roads, high taxation including import duties and tariffs, an insufficient customer base, inadequate skilled manpower, problems in ensuring network security, and the high cost of network operations and maintenance.