Seacom to start construction of undersea cable

African investors on Tuesday gave the go-ahead for the construction of Seacom’s undersea broadband cable, which is expected to boost Africa’s broadband connectivity by offering high bandwidth at low costs.

The undersea cable will connect Southern and East Africa with Europe and India by linking Mtunzini in South Africa to Mumbai in India and Marseille in France via Mozambique, Madagascar, Kenya, and Tanzania.

The development is expected to advance the continent’s social and economic development.

The additional bandwidth provided by the cable, which will cost $650-million and cover more than 15 000km, will also be a catalyst for productivity and the growth of services industries.

“This is a major milestone in the development of advanced broadband infrastructure for Africa by Africans,” said Seacom president Brian Herlihy.

By providing 1,28 terrabytes per second of broadband capacity, which is about ten times bigger than the capacity on the SAT-3 cable system, Seacom aims to bring bandwidth prices for businesses, institutions, communities and individuals down significantly.

Seacom will provide the first access to true broadband connectivity for countries on Africa’s eastern seaboard, which are completely reliant on expensive satellite solutions.

The higher bandwidth will also help with meeting the New Partnership for Africa’s Development’s (Nepad’s) goals of development for Africa’s renewal and its full and beneficial integration into the global economy, Seacom said.

“This is a tremendous opportunity for our continent, because the cable gives us the technical capacity for much closer integration into the world economy, where Africa will significantly share in the new opportunities and efficiency gains arising from this project,” said Cyril Ramaphosa, chairperson of Shanduka — one of Seacoms’s investors.

Ramaphosa added that Shanduka was happy that the investors from South and East Africa had partnered with an international counterpart around the shared vision of linking Africa to the world in the spirit of Nepad.

Another investor, Convergence Partners, said that the cable could improve lives and help grow the economies of the countries involved. “The linking of Southern and East Africa with India and Europe is crucial for enhancing development and trade between these key regions,” explained Andile Ngcaba, chairperson of Convergence Partners.

Seacom has already invested more than $10-million in the marine survey of the cable. This advance work has allowed Seacom to maintain its ready- for-service date of June 2009.

The production of the hi-tech cable and undersea repeaters starts next week. ‒ I-Net Bridge

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