Kenyans tend to be a very optimistic lot. This was probably most evident after the 2002 election when we were widely regarded as the “most optimistic citizens” in the world. This sense of expectancy is here again, and this time it’s around the arrival of terrestrial fiber optic cables to the country.
And with good reason because there are at least three undersea fiber projects are at various stages of development, with (a) the SEACOM project with a 1.28Tbps capacity being first-to-market, then (b) TEAMS to follow in a few short weeks with initial capacity of 120Gbps, upgradeable up to 1.2Tbps in the future, and finally (c) EASSy with a 30Gbps capacity initially and up to 320Gbps in the future.
The capacity on offer here is no joke. Continue reading
Africa has registered one of the highest annual growth rates in global mobile subscribers over the last decade.
According to the 2008 ITU ICT Indicators report, Africa..
has some 280 million total telephone subscribers, of which some 260 million (over 85%) are mobile cellular subscribers, representing the continent with the highest ratio of mobile to total telephone subscribers of any region in the world.
is the region with the highest mobile cellular growth rate (worldwide). Growth over the past 5 years averages almost 65% year on year.
There are four major fiber cable projects under construction targeting Eastern and Southern Africa:
- EASSy (The East African Submarine Cable System) a 9,900 km undersea cable to stretch from South Africa all the way to Sudan.
- TEAMS (The East African Marine System) to run from Fujairah in the UAE to Mombasa in Kenya.
- RELIANCE (The Kenya Data Network Cable) to provide a link between Yemen, Mombasa and later South Africa,
- SEACOM marine cable system to provide connectivity between South Africa, Madagascar, Mozambique, Tanzania, Kenya, India and Europe.
The multiplicity of Africa’s fiber cable projects has raised the hopes of many, including myself, that the ubiquity of high capacity, low cost internet bandwidth will bolster ICT-for-development initiatives in the continent.
So now the question is whether these projects will actually materialize; and if so, in what time frame?
An AfricaNext Investment Research report suggests that there are “too many” cable projects in progress, that at least 4 out of 10 of which probably won’t materialize due to a lack of adequate secured funding in these difficult economic times, major Service Provider and/or Government support.
Unfortunately, the political wrangling and posturing plaguing some of the projects, for instance EASSy, is well documented (Google’s O3B v. EASSy v. NEPAD).
TEAMS is expected to be completed first, within the first quarter of 2009. According to the President of SEACOM, Brian Herlihy, the project is slated for completion on June 17th, 2009. EASSy if projected for mid-2010. Will they stay on schedule?