Liquid Telecom is a leading Pan-African communications solutions provider with presence in over 13 countries. Liquid Telecom’s CEO in Uganda, Dennis Kahindi, spoke to The Independent’s Isaac Khisa about how the company is helping to build Africa’s digital future.
It is nearly nine months since you become CEO for Liquid Telecom Uganda. What is your assessment of data usage compared with other countries in the region?
The fixed Internet service market has been growing year on year over the last five years, making this market close to200, 000 subscribers. There is a good growth, and there’s room for more. On the other hand, the mobile internet usage is seeing a reverse trend for reasons I would not like to delve in now. Compared to other countries in the region, Uganda’s internet penetration pales in comparison to Kenya. We have more room for growth, not our neighbours.
What is Liquid Telecom’s target customers?
Liquid Telecom serves carrier, enterprise and retail customers with high-speed, reliable connectivity and digital services. We have built Africa’s largest independent fibre network, approaching 70,000km, and cover four Wholesale Data, Enterprise, Retail and Wholesale Voice.
I also understand that you offer cloud services. How is your assessment of the market uptake so far? What is your pricing like?
Cloud services rely heavily on connectivity and that is why we have combined our expansive reach, innovative digital services and premium partners to drive the African Cloud revolution. Together we work towards the advancement of cloud services to help drive our customers’ digital transformation. Liquid Telecom brings local billing, on-the-ground support, managed services and assistance. Moving to the cloud is a journey, we bring adaptive solutions that simplify this digital transition. In November 2019, we extended our collaboration with Microsoft as a launch partner in Africa for the new Azure Peering Service. This modern enterprise cloud networking service uses Liquid Telecom’s unrivalled fibre network, strategically located data centres and cloud architecture to provide organisations with optimised, reliable Internet connectivity to Microsoft services, such as Microsoft Office 365.
Over the past years, providers of internet services have increased but the cost has remained high. What is the reasons behind this trend?
On the contrary, the cost of Internet has fallen significantly over the last 10 years, partly informed by the entry of many Internet Service Providers into the market, but mostly influenced by the entry into the market by Undersea Cable providers. The price will continue to go down, customers will demand value more than connectivity, and this is the place for Liquid to play.
Liquid Telecom has now connected Cape to Cairo, East and West of the African continent. What does this mean to the company and the customers?
Bringing major continents closer together via the most direct fibre link connecting East to West Africa via DRC is history in the making. In 2018 Liquid Telecom launched a direct land-based fibre link between Cape Town and Cairo and in July this year, we started work on connecting South Sudan to the rest of the continent. By connecting East to West Africa via DRC with a direct land-based fibre link, more African cities, more communities and more businesses will have access to reliable and faster internet connections than ever, and many for the first time. This will bring proven economic and social benefits throughout the country, including vastly improved healthcare, education, social welfare and trade as we continue to expand Liquid Telecom’s ‘One Africa’ Broadband Network.
What plans does Liquid Telecom have in as far as encouraging the adoption of ICT for businesses as well as government?
In 2017 Liquid Telecom launched its Innovation Partnerships aimed at supporting the growth of digital technology innovation across Africa. By bringing together key players from within the region’s innovation ecosystem, Liquid Telecom is helping technology companies originated and founded in Africa to scale through mutually beneficial partnerships. To drive the uptake and adoption of ICT, we are working with Incubation and Acceleration programs such as the Innovation Village in empowering youth to create ICT businesses and exploring how technology can impact our society in a positive way.
Where do we see Liquid Telecom in the next 10 years?
Access to high-speed broadband is providing the foundations for digital growth and innovation across the continent. Start-ups and businesses in Africa are experimenting with emerging technologies, such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data Analytics and Blockchain, that have the potential to solve African problems and improve lives. We are improving cloud capabilities across the region – providing both the infrastructure and tools to accelerate digital innovation. Approximately 20% of Africa’s population is aged between 15 and 24, making the region as the youngest in the world. We recognise that the development of digital skills will be critical to both their future and a successful digital economy. Over the next 10 years, Liquid Telecom will be that much close to building Africa’s digital future.