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SEACOM cables due in June

NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 5 – Interconnectivity company SEACOM will be connecting Kenya to international broadband networks supporting economic growth starting June.

SEACOM, a Mauritius service provider of fibre optic bandwidth, has laid the first portion of the undersea fibre optic cables on the seabed of the Indian Ocean and Red Sea.

Brian Herlihy, SEACOM President said: “We are delighted to have actual cable in the water and the count-down to June has begun.”
A statement from SEACOM said: “(It will be) the first fibre bandwidth company to avail broadband to countries in East Africa which, at the moment, rely entirely on expensive satellite connections.”  

As a result, the Kenya ICT industry will be in a position to exploit the lower telecommunication costs and inexpensive bandwidth. It will also create new opportunities for sectors including, retail carriers, call centres and business process outsourcing industries.

SEACOM stated: “We plan to be the service provider of high capacity international fibre optic bandwidth linking businesses, individuals, and communities in Southern and East Africa, Europe and South Asia.”

Other life-enhancing disciplines such as educational, clinical and other scientific research, which rely on the real-time sharing of data around the world, will also become more accessible for many Africans organisations.

“SEACOM’s two fibre pairs will have an enormous capacity of 1.28TB/s, to enable high definition TV, peer to peer networks, IPTV, and surging internet demand. Pricing will be significantly lower than current satellite or fibre pricing,” the statement read in part.

SEACOM says its 2009 service launch is well in time to meet the bandwidth needs of the 2010 Soccer World Cup in South Africa and the growing requirements of the economies in the countries it will serve.

There are three cable segments that are currently underway. One is from the edge of South African waters to Mozambique; another is proceeding to the coast of Yemen from the Red Sea at Egypt and the third, is a ship being loaded with SEACOM’s deepwater cable to be deployed from India towards Africa, where all the cables will be joined.

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“We have made tremendous progress since our groundbreaking in Mozambique last November and we can now sense a real level of excitement for SEACOM’s arrival,” enthused Mr Herlihy.

SEACOM’s has made significant strides in land-based construction including in Kenya’s the cable station which is to be complete in early February followed shortly by the Tanzanian and South African stations. Equipment installation in these locations, and in Egypt, will be complete in April.

The organisation has also been preparing to provide services to customers by June and recruited over ten experienced local telecommunications professionals from India, Kenya, Mozambique, South Africa and Tanzania to operate and maintain the cable stations.

“I am also most pleased with our recruitment successes and the fact that SEACOM was able to source the necessary skills to operate the cable from African talent. We are inundated with highly qualified candidates and hiring almost all of our employees from African labour pools,” emphasised the company president.
SEACOM is privately funded and over 76 percent African owned.

It’s investors include: Industrial Promotion Services (26.25%), an arm of the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development, Venfin Limited (25%, South Africa), Convergence Partners and Shanduka Group Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) companies owning 12.5 percent each and the remaining 23.75 percent is held by Herakles Telecom LLC (New York).

When SEACOM is fully functional in 2009, the fibre optic cable will lie on the east coast of Africa linking South Africa, Mozambique, Madagascar, Tanzania, Kenya and Ethiopia to India and Europe.

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