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Seacom cable due in four months

NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 23 – Businesses in the communications industry could get a better competitive edge with the operationalisation of the Seacom cable in the country, in the next four months.

“The cable which will be landing in Mombasa this week could see the cost of doing business in the country reduced by 90 percent,” said Hassan Noor, Seacom Station Manager in Mombasa.

Mr Noor noted that though there were a lot of Kenyans going into You Tube, others have websites and others would want to get into the call centre business, but the biggest impediment has been the cost of communication in the country.

Speaking to Capital Business Mr Noor observed that the high cost of bandwidth is a great challenge in growing sectors like Business Process Outsourcing.

“Even after the government subsidises bandwidth to make business outsourcing in the country attractive, it’s still expensive compared to India, who are the main players in that industry,” Mr Noor said.

Seacom Senior Vice President Jeanne Pierre de Leu noted that satellite communication, which is the dominant in the African region, is 40 times more expensive than cable.

While making a case for this private sector initiative to bring bandwidth to Africa, Mr Pierre de Leu emphasised on the need for an extra cable to complement the government one that is being constructed under the TEAMS project.

“One cable we call monopoly, two competition, but more could be a bit dangerous especially if it’s more than the required capacity,” Mr Pierre de Leu said.
Seacom is a private sector initiative that is looking to operate a high capacity undersea cable linking Africa to Europe and Asia through the Middle East.

The cable landed in Dar es Salaam on Saturday and is expected to get to Mombasa anytime this week.

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The project is 75 percent African owned and is intended to be fully operational in Kenya by June this year.

“Providers of internet and IT solutions will be allowed to buy capacity from us either for a period of 20 years, or a lease for a shorter period of time,” Mr Pierre de Leu said.  

The cable will link South Africa to Mumbai in India and Marseille in France through Mozambique, Madagascar, Kenya, Tanzania and Ethiopia.

“We have three ships on the waters, one coming from the red sea, another in the South African waters and the third from Mumbai going west,” he revealed.

The government Fibre Optic cable under the TEAMS project is expected to be in the country by the end of 2009.

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