The Liberian Connection - Africa (1996 - 2012) - An Internet Magazine that Connects Liberians at home and abroad
 

TLC Africa

Liberia's Premier Website / www.tlcafrica.com

Technology

Liberia's Telecommunication Sector

Liberia Subscriber Data
Minstry of Post and Telecommunicagtions MoPT - Telecommunications Policy
LTA - Telecommunications Regulator
LIBTELCO - National Operator
LIBTELCO - Fiber Optic Backbone
IFMIS - Integrated Financial Management IS
Cable Consortium of Liberia (CCL) - ACE Fiber Optic Cable Network
Pan African eNetwork
Monrovia-University of Liberia Fiber Optic Infrastructure Project (MUFOI)
 

Technology Projects in Liberia

  • LIBTELCO Fiber Optic Backbone - Status: - Phase 1 MOF - LIBTELCO 18th Street Duct Cleared, Fiber Installed and Network Operational.

    • LIBTELCO Duct cleared and ready to receive cable from the Freeport of Monrovia (Bushrod Island - Catholic Junction, Congo Town) - Status: (Cable Installation Planned for Phase 2)

  • Monrovia-University of Liberia Fiber Optic Infrastructure Project (MUFOI) - Status: Planned

  • Cable Consortium of Liberia ACE Fiber Optic Network - Status: Fiber Cable Landed Nov. 3, 2011, System Equipment Installation on-going

  • Ministry of Finance Integrated Financial Management Information System (IFMIS) - Status: Operational

  • Pan African e-Network (TCIL Project)
    • VVIP - Status: Operational via V-SAT
    • Learning Center: Operational via V-SAT
    • Patient End Location: Installation On-going
 

 

 

Status of the ACE Fiber Optic Project in Liberia

What is ACE?

The Africa Coast to Europe (ACE) submarine communication cable, is a planned Fiber Optic Cable system that will run along the West Coast of Africa between France and South Africa.

When did Liberia become a member?

In June 2010, Liberia joined the ACE Consortium in Paris France, when LIBTELCO Managing Director Ben Wolo, signed the Construction and Maintenance Agreement (C&MA) on behalf of the Cable Consortium of Liberia (CCL). The ACE cable is Liberia's first Fiber Optic Cable system.

What is CCL and who are it's members?

The ACE Project in Liberia is a Public Private Venture that was formed under a Special Purpose Vehicle called the Cable Consortium of Liberia (CCL). CCL is made up of the following entities with the following ownership: 60% Government of Liberia (GOL), 20% LIBTELCO, 10% Lone Star Communications and 10% Cellcom. The total cost of the project in Liberia is $25 Million Dollars.

Countries participating in ACE

ACE Submarine Cable System branched landings include:

-, Lisbon (Portugal), Tenerife (Canary Islands), Nouakchott (Mauritania), Dakar (Senegal), Banjul (Gambia), Conakry (Guinea), Freetown (Sierra Leone), Monrovia (Liberia), Abidjan (Ivory Coast), Accra (Ghana), Cotonou (Benin), Lagos (Nigeria), Kribi (Cameroon), Bata (Equatorial Guinea), Libreville (Gabon) and Santana (Sao Tome).

The Monrovia Landing Point

Construction of the Fiber Optic project began in December 2010, when the construction of the Beach Manhole (BMH) and Fiber Optic Duct system started in Central Monrovia.

The Fiber Optic system in Liberia will consist of two networks:

Network One (1): The Africa Coast to Europe (ACE) Backbone - This Fiber Optic cable will serve as Liberia's International backbone and will be the gateway that voice, video and data will securely travel through at high speeds to Africa and the world.

The technology will be delivered to Liberia via the ACE Fiber Optic cable that will come in offshore and connect to a Terminal Station in Central Monrovia that will house fiber equipment.

The offshore coordinates for the cable have been submitted to the Ministry of Agriculture (Fisheries), the National Oil Company (NOCAL), The Bureau of Maritime and the National Coast Guard with a request for a protective zone for the cable.

The Cable Protective Zone is 500 m from the center left and 500 m from the center right for the distance of the cable to shore - 111.23 miles / 179 km

ACE Schedule of the First Phase of construction in Liberia

  • Completion date of the BMH and Duct system: June 30, 2011 (Completed)
  • Start date of the Terminal Station construction: April 1, 2011 (Completed)
  • ACE Cable landed on Liberia's shores on November 3, 2011 (Completed)
  • Completion date of the Terminal Station: February 2012 (Station equipped and connected to ACE submarine cable)
  • ACE Cable System Official Launch, Banjul, Gambia - December 18-21, 2012
  • Estimated date for the system coming online in Liberia: January 2013
  • Cable Life is 20 Years

Network Two (2): For Liberians to be able to utilize the technology, a National Backbone must be built in stages. This national backbone when it is fully constructed will distribute the technology throughout Liberia using ducts, poles and microwave technology. The existing duct system is being cleaned and damaged ducts and manholes repaired. Every time you see Vernon Scott and his LIBTELCO crew on street corners in Monrovia, they are cleaning and repairing the ducts. The duct has been cleared from Freeport in Bushrod Island to a point pass Lonestar in Congotown. The existing duct ends at the Catholic Hospital junction in Congotown.

The National Backbone

The first leg of the National Backbone is to extend from the Ministry of Finance Customs area at the Freeport, to LIBTELCO 18th Street Location. Work has already begun for the first phase of the National Fiber Optic Backbone and the first phase is scheduled to be completed by the end of April 2011.

The first leg of the National Backbone will connect six (6) GOL Revenue Centers including The Ministry of Finance, Civil Service Administration, Central Bank, MOF Customs at the Freeport, and the General Auditing Commission to LIBTELCO Data Center.

GOL Ministries, Agencies and non-GOL entities along LIBTELCO Duct Route (Freeport to 18th Street Sinkor), that want to connect to the National Backbone, should contact LIBTELCO Managing Director Ben Wolo, about gaining access to the Fiber Optic Cable system.

Several international organizations are assisting Liberia in the process, including Fiber for the University of Liberia from the University of Indiana.

What this project means to Liberia

Bringing Fiber Optic to Liberia has been a dream for thousands of Liberians who utilized and studied the technology abroad, and recognized the power and potential it holds for transitioning Liberia's economy and delivering services to the citizens.

The dream of bringing Fiber Optic to Liberia became a reality in 2010, after President Sirleaf asked the Ministry of Finance to seek funding from the World Bank for the project. In June 2010, Liberia signed the Construction and Maintenance Agreement (C&MA) and became a member of the Africa Coast to Europe (ACE) Consortium in Paris France.

Every sector of Liberia stands to benefit by the remarkable improvement in communication and the delivery of services this technology will bring, including:

  • Government - Connecting all government agencies and public corporations to a single e-Government network will Improve the way government does business, deliver services and collect revenues.

  • Telecommunication- Delivering reliable, faster and improved communication of voice, video and data. It will allow telecommunication companies to deliver the latest digital products and services, and provide a secure International Gateway for information entering and leaving Liberia. Liberia will have the ability to maintain it's own severs to support an array of networks applications, including Local Area Networks (LANs), Metropolitan Area Networks (MANs), and Wide Area Networks (WANs). We will be able to support our own web servers, mail servers, name severs, etc.

  • Education- It will improve the methods and speed at which we deliver education material to our people, especially our youth. Making it easier to deliver educational material to students all over the counties from instructors near and far, while improving the quality of our teachers and reducing the cost of teachers in the classroom. It will provide access to updated and advance educational material including e-books, e-Library, e-Labs and e-Research. It will connect our students in Liberia with students and classrooms all around the world. e-Education is one of the most exciting aspects of this project for Liberia, it has the potential to reduce Liberia illiteracy rate and reduce unemployment.

  • Employment - Creating new career possibilities and opportunities in every field of study. This technology will prepare Liberia's workforce for Administrative and Technical positions in many of the companies coming to do business in Liberia. It will allow our people to learn new tools and applications. It will improve the quality of work for many.

  • Medicine - Delivering health care via the technology of e-Medicine, will improve, record keeping, delivery of services, education of doctors and nurses, remote diagnostics and open the possibility of advance treatment right here in Liberia. Like e-Education, e-Medicine holds great potential for Liberia. It will improve diagnostic and deliver health care to remote areas where citizens currently have no access. It will improve the way medical care is delivered and health information shared in urban and rural areas and make patient information and family health history available to doctors, nurses, hospitals and clinics. Through this technology an x-ray can be taken in Grand Kru and read by Doctors in Monrovia, Accra, China, India or the USA. It will provide access to Medical Libraries and access to Doctors near and far.

  • Crime Prevention and improve policing - through the use of CCTV, better record keeping, improve methods of communications and the sharing of information between law enforcement communities. It also hold the potential of improving the police response time and providing greater access of the citizens to the police.

  • Border Patrol, Customs, the Coast Guard, the Military, Banking and Finance, Embassies, Commerce, Agriculture, Farm to Market, Import and Export, Logging, Mining, Shipping, Drilling, etc.

Recommendations from a Network Engineer: How can Liberia prepare for this undertaking?

Before Liberia can reap the benefits of this technology, Liberia must do the following things:

1. Begin to build and expand the National Backbone. Identify targeted areas and begin parallel efforts in building the network system, equipping classrooms and training the public.

A Network system consist of small individual networks that are connected to other networks, creating a larger network.

Consider the analogy of a chain link. One link in the chain is connected to another link and those links are connected to other links to create the length of the chain.

A Network is similar. Each computer is equipped with a network card, configured software and a network cable. Via the cable or wirelessly, the computer is connected to a server or to another computer, to create a network, where all the computers connected to that network can share devices and information, and see each other data, if permission is granted. This small network can then be connected to other small networks, creating very large networks, like e-Government, e-Education or the Internet.

1. Education Network - Create an Education Network where Schools, teachers and students can be connected. For Liberia to successfully embellish this technology, it is important that we ensure that our children, including our Preschoolers, Elementary & High Schools students have access. They are the workforce of the future. Understanding the technology is also easily internalized by young people.

Colleges, Universities, Technical Schools, Teachers and the The Ministry of Education should also be connected to this network. It is through this network that educational material and long distance learning will be delivered.

2. Government Network - Connect all government, agencies and public corporations to this Intranet. Individual Ministries will have their local area networks, but they will also have the ability to access this central government network.

3. Hospitals & Clinics - Create a Medical Network that The Ministry of Health, Medical Schools, Hospitals and Clinics will be connected to. This Intranet will eventually serve the National Medical community and will provide access to Medical Information, Patients Information, Teaching Universities and Hospitals, etc.

4. Law Enforcement - Create a Law Enforcement Network that all Liberia Law Enforcement agencies will have access to, including Justice Ministry, Immigration, LNP, the Courts, border and coast guard. This Intranet will serve the National Law Enforcement Community.

5. The Military - Create a Military Network that will serve the Military.

6. Consumers - Private / Public Networks where digital products and services can be accessed. Digital Radio, Digital TV, Web Servers, Music Download, Video Download, e-Books, the buying and selling of products including art, jewelry, minerals, agriculture products, etc.

What's needed to utilize this technology?

1. Wiring (wired & wirelessly) - campuses, businesses, buildings, classrooms, offices, and labs will have to be wired or setup for wireless connectivity. Labs and Data Centers should be built and equipped, and an IT maintenance team trained or contracted with, to support the users and the network.

2. The collection and entry of data. Liberia will have to undergo a period where most of the information we have lying around in the form of stacks of paper or in file cabinets, binders, folders, drawers filing and storage rooms have to be entered into databases. Banks, Government, Schools, private corporations, the land registry, health ministry, the military, police, immigration, etc., need to enter the volume of data they have collected over the years into databases.

Schools and Universities need to enter their students' information, class courses and curriculum; Hospitals needs to enter their patients, doctors, drugs and service locations information. Birth and death records need to be enter. All the record keepers need to enter their information into databases. This is the information that will be referenced on the computer and available to the public and or private sector.

3. When the equipment and databases are in place, and the Local Area Networks are providing service, a massive training program targeted at students, government employees, health care workers, law enforcement, border and coast guard must get underway to prepare the workers to use the technology. Training Centers can be utilized and existing classrooms equipped to serve as training centers. Seminars and certification programs offered. This step of preparing the public to use electronic tools to accomplish tasks related to their jobs, schools and or businesses cannot be missed. For Liberians to transition to this technology, email as a business tool and delivery of documents electronically must be insisted on in the workplace and in schools.

Where will the trainers and technical expertise come from to build and support the Intranets?

From within the Liberian community at home and abroad. Recently TLC Africa ran a poll to collect data on the types of degrees Liberians are pursuing?

With these results, there are sufficient Liberians, who with the right incentive can be persuaded to return and participate in the process at much lower cost then importing foreign expertise. We will still need the assistance of our foreign partners and experts, but much of the training and installation of networking equipment can be carried out by Liberians.

3. Electricity - Electricity is critical to the deployment, use and benefits of this technology. Electricity is needed to power the computers, network boxes and servers. Data and Network Centers need 24 hours a day electricity. Electricity is needed to power the end-user equipment while ISPs and Telecom Centers need electricity to deliver the technology. With out electrical power, these are plastic and metal boxes with no particle use. Liberia will not be able to fully utilize this technology without parallel plans for providing electricity to labs, data centers, network centers and the users who will use the technology. Electricity is CRITICAL!

4. Where will the funding come from? It is easy to dream of grand schemes but difficult to find the money to fund the intended schemes.

The government of Liberia will have to find funding for e-government, e-education and e-medicine portions of the network. These are all services that are delivered by government. The networks can be financed and expanded in stages as more institutions create their local area networks and connect them to larger networks. Funding will also have to be identified and prioritized to expand the National Backbone and to connect the various counties.

Private schools like Cuttington, Zion, Ricks, B.W. Harris, CWA and others schools and colleges will have to find the funds to build their individual networks and connect them to a larger network. This is something that the Alumni Associations abroad can help their individual schools with. B.W. Harris alumni association is already assisting the school in this direction. It is a good project, one that holds the potential to elevate the students and prepare them for successful futures.

Banks, companies and the private sector will fund and drive the private and consumer networks

How far is Liberia into the process?

The computer revolution is reaching us. In the 5 years since I moved home, I have seen an increase in the number of computers and users. Most government ministries now have computers, although only a few of them have actually set up Local Area Networks. The University of Liberia now has a functioning computer lab, Computers are also appearing in some schools, but not enough to make an impact.

Private training centers like Starz are opening up in some areas, but again, not enough to make an impact.

The University of Liberia and JFK Medical Center have been connected to the PAN-African e-Network bringing the first experience of long-distance learning to Liberia. It's a good start, however it is a pilot project and it needs to be expanded both in the number of students who have access and to other areas of the country.

Liberia has started the process, construction work on the International Gateway and first leg of the National backbone have started, government offices are being equipped with computers, however more access and training are required, especially in schools. May 2012, the estimated date for the ACE Fiber Optic cable to go online in Liberia, is almost here.

Some ways we can help?

  1. Encourage and sponsor young people to take interest and courses in Technology.
  2. Send computers and laptops to students and schools in Liberia.
  3. Send video games and educational toys your children have outgrown to students and schools in Liberia. Liberian kids need to experience the technology, not just read about it or see it on TV. One of the best ways to learn this technology is to play games with it. Through games they will learn the basics.
  4. Alumni Associations and County Associations can sponsor computer labs and Local Area Network Projects in their schools and counties. It's not that expensive to start and it is easy to expand. Each project must include a generator to provide electricity to the lab and to the network when it is in use.
  5. More Liberians with technical and teaching expertise need to return home to aid the process.
  6. Liberians need to begin to develop digital content and media for use on these networks. If not, we will complain that all that is available on Liberia networks, are Nigerian, Ghanian and other countries material. We must develop our own, if we don't, other people material will be used to fill open time slots.

Ministries, Agencies, Companies and Consultants working on the ACE Fiber Optic System in Liberia

  • The Office of the President through the Ministry of State
  • The Ministry of Post and Telecommunication
  • The Ministry of Planning and Economic Affairs
  • The Ministry of Finance - (GOL 60% Ownership)
  • Liberia Telecommunications Authority (LTA)- Regulator of the sector, providing regulation oversight for the project in Liberia
  • LIBTELCO - 20% Owner
  • Lonestar - 10% Owner
  • Cellcom - 10% Owner
  • TLC Africa
  • ECOCON - Constructing the Terminal Station
  • L and C Construction Company - Constructing the Beach Man Hole and Ducts
  • ZTE - Providing Power and Surveillance Equipment
  • Environmental Resources Managers Limited (ERML) - The International firm conducting the environmental impact assessment
  • Earthcon - Local environmental consultants working with ERML
  • Bezaleel + Turnkey Contractors - Consultants with construction Oversight Responsibility
  • Soffrecom - South African Consultants who conducted the feasibility study for selection of landing point in Liberia

International Organization

  • World Bank
  • France Telecom

You can read more about GOL efforts to bring Fiber and e-Education to Liberia

Related Information

 

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About the Author - Ciata Victor is the webmaster and CEO of TLC Africa. She is also a Network Engineer who is currently living and working in Monrovia, Liberia