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Somalia gets first fiber optic link to the world

CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - African fiber optic company Liquid Telecom has delivered a broadband Internet cable to Somalia's doorstep, the first terrestrial connection to the Horn of Africa country that because of conflict has had rely on expensive satellite links.

Liquid Telecom has agreed a deal with one of Somalia's largest mobile operators, Hormuud, to connect it to its 17,000 km (10,500 mile) network of terrestrial cables that crosses 11 African countries.

Liquid already provides Somalia with international Internet links via satellite, but will now deliver more capacity faster.

"If there is a place that is not connected, that is the place that attracts us," Nic Rudnick, chief executive of Mauritius-based Liquid Telecom, told Reuters on the sidelines of an African telecoms conference in Cape Town.

Although it has one of the longest shorelines on the continent, Somalia does not benefit from the three undersea cables that run alongside it. All of them land further south in Kenya, from where Liquid Telecom will be linking to it.

The company has access to capacity on all three cables and is a shareholder in one, the East African Marine System.

Liquid provides bandwidth connectivity to clients in 16 countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Zimbabwe, through both satellite and cable connections.

Rudnick said the company would spend $250 million over the next two years to extend its network to more African cities including major centers in west Africa.

(Reporting by Helen Nyambura-Mwaura; Editing by Ed Stoddard and David Evans)

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