East African countries get high speed and cheap Internet
Saturday 1 August 2009 / by Stéphane Ballong
High speed and cheap internet access has become a reality in East Africa. Seacom, a Mauritian telecommunications company, last week completed the installation of a fibre optic cable that gives eastern African countries access to modern information technology. At a cost of US$ 600 million, the project was mainly funded by private investors in Africa.
East Africa is finally connected to broadband internet technology. Work on an underwater fibre optic cable installation has been completed. Henceforth, internet connection in east African countries will be forty times faster than its usual speed.
“Today is a historic day for Africa and marks the dawn of a new era for communications between the continent and the rest of the world,” Brian Herlihy, chief executive officer of SEA Cable System, the company that carried out the project, said in a statement. Indeed, thanks to the fibre optic technology, countries like Mozambique, Madagascar, Tanzania, Kenya, Djibouti and Sudan ... who have only had Internet access via satellite at ludicrous prices, now have a better and cheaper option.
According to Laurent Cornet spokesman Seacom, the arrival of the fibre optic cable technology, ten times the capacity of the previous technology and much cheaper, will help in setting competitive tariffs, due to the fact that it will be accessible to a larger number of telecommunications operators.
Investors in South Africa
Started by Herakles Telecom, an American company, and mainly financed by South African investors, the project cost about US$ 600 million. Laurent Cornet also indicated that the return on investment for the project is five years due to a high level of demand. About eight clients (operators and companies) have already shown interest. The new cable linking Kenya to South Africa via Madagascar is nearly 14 000 km long. Somalia is the only country in the east coast of the continent not to have access to this technology. The reason being the insecurity posed by pirates off the country’s coast.
Thirteen other countries in the hinterland, close to those bordering the Indian Ocean will also benefit from the new technology. They are Botswana, Burundi, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Chad, Ethiopia, Lesotho, Malawi, Rwanda, Swaziland, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.