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CDA's Remarks at Open-Access Fiber Backbone Launch
4 MINUTE READ
January 25, 2024

(As prepared)

Officials of the Government of Liberia

Ambassadors

Mobile Network Operators, Internet Service Providers,

Development Partners,

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen

It is a great pleasure to be with you today as we commemorate the official launch of Liberia’s inaugural Open-Access Fiber Backbone.

I’d like to thank CSquared; a private, for-profit technology company who partnered with the U.S. Government to unlock the immense development potential for Information and Communications Technology (ICT) not only in Liberia but across the continent.

We’ve had the privilege of partnering with CSquared on this project through our USAID Mission here in Liberia and with the USAID Digital Invest program in Washington an initiative of the U.S. Government’s Digital Connectivity and Cybersecurity Partnership and the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment.

The completion of the 350-kilometer internet fiber backbone from Monrovia to the Guinea and Cote d’Ivoire borders signifies a monumental achievement for Liberia’s ICT sector.

This new fiber backbone gives Liberia’s population of 5.2 million people more ways to connect.

Internet use currently stands at approximately 1.8 million; regrettably, this means that approximately 66 percent of Liberia’s population remain offline.

With the implementation of this fiber backbone, we anticipate an additional one million people gaining internet access across three counties and 13 towns along the Monrovia-Luguato [Loo-gwa-TOH] corridor.

Notably, this project, supported by USAID, has contributed to the creation of 131 jobs inside Liberia.

And we anticipate many more economic opportunities to come as mobile network operators and internet service providers utilize this backbone to expand services along its route.

This advancement underscores the pivotal role the private sector plays in job creation and economic growth when facilitated by a supportive government environment.

Despite these achievements, Liberia’s ICT sector still grapples with significant challenges.

Limited infrastructure in rural areas impedes service extension, high costs of internet service make access unaffordable for many citizens, and slow policy implementation hampers progress towards universal affordable internet access.

Additionally, affordability of digital devices for students and teachers, among other obstacles, hinders digital skills development in schools. Lack of internet access and digital skills can leave children unprepared for the modern world.

These challenges must be addressed together so that Liberia’s ICT sector can continue to flourish and contribute to social and economic development.

There are promising developments in the telecommunications sector, which is increasingly active and competitive across the country.

The private Global System for Mobile network operators is also investing in network infrastructure, leading to price reductions for voice and data services.

I stand here today, optimistic, and grateful to share in the launch of this Open-Access Fiber Backbone driven by the U.S. private sector.

I am optimistic that mobile network operators and internet service providers will seize this opportunity to extend their services beyond Monrovia, providing affordable and reliable internet access to rural Liberia.

In closing, I have confidence that, collectively, we can and will continue to increase U.S. private sector involvement to foster economic growth and bridge the digital divide in Liberia and throughout greater Africa.

Thank you.