By Roger Field
East Africa gains first fibre optic cable connection to rest of the world as Seacom goes live
Seacom, a 17,000 km fibre optic cable linking south and east Africa to Europe and India, started commercial operations last weekend.
The cable system has a capacity of 1.28 terabytes per second, and has backhaul links connecting Johannesburg, Nairobi and Kampala.
Seacom, the privately funded venture behind the cable, confirmed that it is working with various partners to create further links to Rwanda and Ethiopia.
Brian Herlihy, CEO, Seacom, said completion of the project “marks the dawn of a new era for communications between the continent” and the rest of the world.
“Our efforts of the past 24 months have come to fruition, and we are proud to be the first to provide affordable, high quality broadband capacity and experience to east African economies,” he said. “Turning the switch ‘on’ creates a huge anticipation but ultimately, Seacom will be judged on the changes that take place on the continent over the coming years."
While the Seacom cable is the first of its kind to connect east Africa to the rest of the world, the west coast of Africa and South Africa is already linked to Europe and Asia by the SAT-3/WASC/SAFE cable.
Other cables are due to be completed in the next couple of years, including the East African Submarine Cable System (EASSY) to connect countries along the east coast of Africa to the Middle East, and the Du-backed EIG cable, which will connect Fujairah in the UAE to Djibouti and India.
Meanwhile, the East Africa Marine System (Teams) consortium of the Government of Kenya and the UAE's Etisalat is working on a 4,900km cable that will link the port city of Mombassa in Kenya to Fujairah.
Daniel Jones, an analyst at Analysys Mason said a “huge increase in capacity” is expected between Africa and the rest of the world over the coming two years, although he added there are some doubts about when some of these projects will be completed.
“A number of other cables are also being planned for Africa’s east and west coasts, and will massively increase connectivity to the region, if launched. Some cable projects have been subject to lengthy delays, causing speculation as to whether all of the planned cable projects will go ahead,” he said.