Seacom cable system goes live

24 July 2009

Seacom has announced that its 1.28 terabyte-per-second, 17 000km submarine fibre-optic cable system linking south and east Africa to global networks via India and Europe has been completed and commissioned.

Backhauls linking Johannesburg, Nairobi and Kampala with the coastal landing stations have been established, and Seacom is working with its national partners to commission the final links to Kigali and Addis Ababa. The entire system will be operated and controlled through Seacom’s network operations centre, which is based in Pune, India.

Shareholders in the US$650-million (about R5-billion) cable include US-based Herakles Telecom (with a 25% stake), Kenya’s Industrial Promotion Services (25%), and Venfin (25%), as well as empowerment groups Convergence Partners (12.5%) and Shanduka (12.5%) from South Africa – making the cable 75% African owned.

South Africa’s second national operator, Neotel, is not part of the cable-building consortium, but owns the landing rights as part of its licence, and contributed funds toward the cable landing station and all related facilities within South African territory.

New era for communications

Seacom CEO Brian Herlihy said the launch marked the dawn of a new era for communications between Africa and the rest of the world, opening up new opportunities for government and business across the continent, at a fraction of the current cost.

“Our tireless efforts over 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 countries,” Herlihy said in a statement this week.

“Turing 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.”

Transforming Africa

Cisco Systems vice-president for Africa Yvon le Roux said they were working with Seacom to help transform Africa by outlining process change, building networks, and then providing application services and expertise that support key services for citizens, such as education, healthcare, public safety, economic development and national security.

Plentiful and readily available bandwidth will also result in lower telecommunications costs and new opportunities across many sectors, including the call centre and business process outsourcing industries.

“Cisco and Seacom share a common goal to enable accessible broadband across Africa while lowering the cost of communication to spur growth within urban and rural communities,” Le Roux said.

“Seacom will provide the catalyst for African consumers, business and government to realise the benefits of connectivity and collaboration across the globe.”

SAinfo reporter

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