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BUSINESS & TECH

State-Owned Telecom Subsidiary Looks to Africa to Reverse Its Fortunes

By Teng Jing Xuan, Qin Min and Zhang Erchi
A cellphone vendor displays his wares in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, in April. China Communications Service Corp. Ltd., a subsidiary of China Telecom, is planning a massive fiber-optic network in Africa that will cover 48 countries. Photo: IC
A cellphone vendor displays his wares in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, in April. China Communications Service Corp. Ltd., a subsidiary of China Telecom, is planning a massive fiber-optic network in Africa that will cover 48 countries. Photo: IC

After years of slowing profit growth in a crowded domestic telecommunications market, China Communications Service Corp. Ltd. is hoping a massive infrastructure project in Africa will reverse its fortunes.

In the 1980s and ’90s, the state-owned enterprise was instrumental in developing China’s first long-distance communications backbone, nicknamed “bazongbaheng” — Mandarin for “eight verticals and eight horizontals” — which linked the fiber optic networks of the country’s provincial capitals for the first time.

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