The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), which is a Chinese initiative, has provided its first loan of $75 million to Cambodia Fiber Optic Communication Network Co Ltd (CFOCN) to improve the Kingdom’s internet speed and quality, an AIIB statement said.
The bank will invest in approximately 2,000km of metro and regional fibre optic backbone networks to provide wider coverage in major cities, suburbs and rural areas.
The project is expected to support the government’s Information Technology and Telecommunications (ICT) plan, which plans to achieve 100 per cent broadband coverage in cities and 70 per cent in rural areas, the AIIB said.
The construction of the optical cable network will pass five provinces – Kampot, Prey Veng, Tbong Khmum, Kampong Thom and Pursat.
CFOCN is the largest independent and carrier-neutral provider of national fibre network in Cambodia, said the AIIB.
The Ministry of Economy and Finance in March said it signed an agreement on an intranet supply project with CFOCN to promote the implementation of a public financial management reform programme in line with the digital economy context of Industry 4.0.
The underground fibre optic project is set to cost $35 million this year and $35 million next year, with another $5 million allotted for other expenses.
Dong-ik Lee, director-general of Investment Operations at AIIB, said AIIB expects that the project will increase the economic efficiency and facilitate the digital commerce system in Cambodia.
“The loan aligns well with AIIB’s private capital mobilisation thematic priority and is an important precedent for other international investors and financial institutions,” he said.
AIIB vice-president and chief investment officer D J Pandian said in the press release that the improvement in connection is a key mandate of the AIIB.
“The project will contribute to boosting Cambodia’s digital connection and help to develop and expand the Kingdom’s telecommunications and ICT sectors, expecting to benefit consumers and companies,” he said.
Telecommunication Regulator of Cambodia (TRC) spokesman Im Vutha said the AIIB fund coincided with the government’s Industry 4.0 strategy.
“At present, the government’s rectangular strategy strongly focuses on the digital economy as the fourth-generation industry [Industry 4.0] progresses. We need a 5G network, so investors are interested in investing in fibre optics networking,” he said.
Vutha said in the first half of this year, there were more than 13 million internet subscribers in Cambodia, mostly via mobile phones.
There are currently four foreign companies investing in undersea Internet fibre optic cables in the Kingdom and three local firms investing in underground fibre optic cables, he said.