Rwanda to lay 2 300km of fibre in 2009

Rwanda plans to lay 2 300km of fibre-optic cable costing $38-million in 2009 to extend a network throughout most of the Central African nation, its information communication technology (ICT) authority said on Thursday.

Rwanda is positioning itself to be a regional ICT hub and is seeking to revolutionise its economy after the trauma of the genocide in 1994.

Antoine Sebera, director of infrastructure at the Rwanda Information Technology Authority, said that Kigali had contracted South Korea’s KT Corporation for the work.

“Now the cables are being manufactured and shipped. The physical laying will start in February,” he told Reuters in an interview.

The fibre extension will connect to one of Africa’s planned undersea telecommunications cables, he said.

The authorities in Kigali hoped to complete the laying of fibre by September 2009 when one of the sea cables should be completed, Sebera said.

Analysts say that Africa’s expensive and unreliable telecommunication services are a major hindrance to investment.

Kigali has another $24-million project, funded by the World Bank, to connect Rwanda to the coast where the undersea cable is expected to land, according to the body.

The 2 300km of fibre will connect with 35 main nodes throughout the country and 350 sites.

“We cannot wire the whole country,” he said.

“Private companies will lease the fibre to provide broadband wireless [to the rest of Rwanda] using the fibre as their transmission backbone.”

Sebera said Rwanda currently gets internet access from satellites that cost on average $2 000 for each megabyte per month.

“We expect more than 70% reduction once we connect [to the submarine cable],” he said.

Kigali has already completed laying 135km around the capital at a cost of $5-million, which will be operational in December, the authority said.

The authority says it plans to launch a national e-government portal for citizen services, connect Rwanda’s districts, digitise customs and have an online agriculture market price system by the end of next year. - Reuters

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