TAKE 2: Seacom launches with little fanfare

While the arrival of the Seacom undersea cable is great news for international bandwidth starved South Africa, the launch on Thursday at Neotel’s Midrand data centre was more damp squib than monumental occasion.

While guests and the media watched a video from Tanzania, where Seacom CEO Brian Herlihy and Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete officially launched East Africa’s first undersea cable, techies sat glued to their laptops testing upload and download speeds and trying to one-up each other with Twitter tweets.

Tech journalists, bloggers and Twitter users provided a running commentary on the proceedings and most chose to focus on the high-speed services that Seacom will deliver to South Africa, which is appropriate because that’s where the real story of Seacom lies, especially for South Africa.

For years, South Africa has been held to ransom by Telkom and its monopoly over Africa’s only undersea cable, Sat-3.

Could it be a mere coincidence? Or has the consortium been squeezing every last cent out of Africa?

This sense of aggravation was borne out in comments made by Shanduka Group chairperson Cyril Ramaphosa, a major investor in Seacom, who said the launch of Seacom signalled the ‘end of our frustration”.

Ramaphosa said that Seacom would serve as ‘a catalyst for the east and south of Africa to speed up its economic development”.

‘The benefits we will see from this will be enormous,” said Ramaphosa.

‘We, as the Shanduka group, are proud to be involved in this project.”

Lloyd Gedye