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  • A key step to the launch of a Global Gateway “Digital Package” in DRC, EIB Global investment backs expansion of fibre-optic network to 2.5 million people in eastern DRC
  • New infrastructure will enable high-speed internet coverage for 319 schools and 70 hospitals
  • The project contributes to DRC’s National Plan for digitalisation

More than 2.5 million people living in the eastern regions of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) will benefit from faster, cheaper and more reliable digital connectivity thanks to new fibre-optic network investment being rolled out by Bandwidth and Cloud Services Group (BCS) and backed by the European Investment Bank (EIB). Under Global Gateway, the EU’s positive offer for trusted and sustainable connections with partner countries, the new fibre-optic infrastructure will enable high-speed broadband internet in homes, schools and hospitals, opening up access to digital services and information, and contributing to the country’s digital transformation.

Today at the Kinshasa Economic Forum, the EIB and BCS signed a warrants agreement that will allow BCS to move forward with their plans to install a new fibre-optic backbone in the eastern regions of the DRC. The warrants agreement follows a US$ 10 million quasi-equity investment from EIB Global, the EIB’s arm dedicated to international partnerships and development finance. The financing package addresses BCS’s immediate funding needs to support their fast and long-term growth.

“We are very pleased to take this step forward with BCS, as part of the European Investment Bank’s commitment to accelerating digitalisation in the Democratic Republic of Congo and across Africa,” commented Thomas Östros, Vice-President of the European Investment Bank. “Digital is such a powerful driver of equity, inclusion and growth, that the EU has made it a pillar of our Global Gateway strategy. Expansion of the fibre-optic infrastructure will enable local communities, schools and hospitals to benefit from mobile broadband, which ultimately means new opportunities for learning, for business, for jobs, for healthcare.”

Founder and Managing Director of BCS Group Yonas Maru said, “This is an important milestone in our mission to provide fast, high-quality and affordable digital connectivity in underserved areas in DRC and across Eastern, Central and Southern Africa. Our continued partnership with the EIB means we can move forward with our optic expansion plans to build over 20 000 kilometers of digital infrastructure out of which 12 000 kilometers are in DRC. This will go a long way to ensure implementation of the MOU between the Government of DRC and BCS to connect over 1 900 schools, 1 640 public hospitals and government institutions along the BCS backbone and metro fibre infrastructure. The Government of DRC has in return agreed to waive the fibre licence fee per kilometre and provide rights of way on all public infrastructure – railroad, electricity poles, rivers and lakes – in exchange. As BCS we are excited to be part of Africa’s journey to achieving regional connectivity and we look forward to a continued partnership with the EIB.”

European Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen, said: “This fibre-optic network firmly illustrates what the EU’s Global Gateway strategy is all about: connecting people in our partner countries with trusted and sustainable infrastructure. It will transform more than 2.5 million Congolese lives, bringing high-speed internet to critical facilities such as hospitals and schools. Through Global Gateway, the EU will continue supporting partner countries in Central Africa level-up their digital network, to bring more opportunities for families and businesses alike.”

Faster connections for more people across the DRC

The EIB-backed investment by BCS will connect areas currently underserved by high-speed telecoms. Better access to the Internet will unlock new opportunities for local entrepreneurs and support job creation, and direct telecom connections to 319 schools and 70 hospitals and health centres will improve education and public health.

The investment will enable regions impacted by conflict to benefit from better mobile broadband coverage and reliable communication.

BCS Group has entered into a long-term funding partnership with the EIB. This is part of the EIB’s continued collaboration with BCS following a US$18 million funding in 2018.

This investment will enable the construction of 1 200 kilometres of fibre, part of the 20 000 kilometres that BCS plans to build in Southern, Central and Eastern Africa over the next three years.

The Kinshasa Economic Forum has brought together the President of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Felix Tshisikedi, the President of France Emmanuel Macron, Jutta Urpilainen, European Commissioner for International Partnerships and Thierry Breton, European Commissioner for the Internal Market, to discuss opportunities for strategic cooperation and continued partnership.

Background information

About the European Investment Bank

Over the last decade the EIB has provided more than € 1 billion for telecom investment across Africa in public and private sector projects spanning fibre optic, data centres and e-IDs.

EIB Global is the EIB Group's specialised arm devoted to increasing the impact of international partnerships and development finance. It is designed to foster strong, focused partnership within Team Europe, alongside fellow development finance institutions and civil society. EIB Global brings the Group closer to local people, companies and institutions through our offices around the world.

About BCS Group

Bandwidth and Cloud Services Group (BCS) is a carrier-neutral, internet bandwidth wholesale provider with a presence in East, Central, and Southern Africa regions. Bandwidth and Cloud Services offer wholesale internet, fibre transmission, and construction services to mobile operators, ISPs, content providers, and social media providers. Operating in Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, (DRC), Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and Malawi, BCS further serves Ethiopia, Botswana, Burundi, Namibia, and South Sudan at their respective border points.

Bandwidth and Cloud Services is a Pan-African telecom infrastructure specialising in fibre-optic connectivity and providing connectivity solutions, reaching an estimated 80m+ end users with a network coverage spanning over 12 500 kms.