EASSy cable open for business

The days of limited and expensive international bandwidth in South Africa are over as the EASSy cable became the second submarine cable to launch on the East coast of Africa.

MTN’s Trevor Martin’s, who also serves as the EASSy consortium’s chairperson, announced in Sandton this week that the cable had come in ahead of schedule and almost 10% under its $300-million budget.

The 10 000km cable lands in South Africa, Mozambique, Madagascar, the Comores, Tanzania, Kenya, Somaliland, Djibouti and Sudan.

It connects with multiple Asian and European cables in Djibouti and Sudan.

The commercial launch of the EASSy cable follows the launch of the Seacom cable in July 2009 and Telkom’s SAT-3 cable.

The Seacom cable was privately funded, while EASSy has seen significant investment from governments and major operators along the East Coast of Africa.

Investors include MTN, Neotel, Telkom, Vodacom, British Telecom, Botswana Telecoms, Bharti Airtel, Dalkom Somalia, Comoros Telecom, Mauritius Telecom and France Telecom, among others.

Unlike South Africa, for many African countries the EASSy cable represents their second undersea cable, which is vitally important in stimulating competition, but also in creating backup capacity in case one of the cables has a fault or is damaged on the sea bed.

“We are confident that this is the most reliable system serving the African continent,” said Jacques van der Walt, the chairperson of the EASSy consortium’s procurement committee.

One small hiccup was that the cable does not land in Mogadishu, Somalia, due to the threat of piracy.

Chris Wood, the CEO of WIOCC—an investor in the EASSy cable—said the cable would land in the north of Somaliland and service Somalia through this landing station.

Wood said that the consortium still planned to land in Mogadishu once the threats of piracy had been minimised. He said, however, that this was probably a year or two away.

Lloyd Gedye

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