NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 16 – The government has commissioned the underwater laying of the Sh10.3 billion East Africa Marine System cable (TEAMS) in Fujairah.
Information and Communications Minister Samuel Poghisio commissioned the project in the United Arab Emirates.
“We have come here to commission the laying of the cable in the sea, a 5000 km journey from Fujairah to Mombasa. The process will probably take two months and is likely that by the middle of June the ship should be anchoring in Mombasa, or rather delivering the cable to Mombasa,” said Mr Poghisio.
The cable is due in Mombasa in June this year.
TEAMS’ board member Nzioka Waita said the work at Fujairah would involve the laying of the shore-end cable, which is the beginning part of the cable between the beach manhole and the sea.
Part of the reason the team travelled to Fujairah was to inspect the cables and the trenching equipment before the ship started laying the cable in the sea.
Mr Poghisio, who earlier visited the cable manufacturer’s, Alcatel-Lucent Submarine Networks (ASN) plant in France confirmed the equipment loaded on the “E-Marine Cable Ship” as being to the specification, design and capacity agreed to by all the parties.
Once the cable lands in Mombasa, it will be connected to amongst other terrestrial fibre optic cables the National Optic Fibre Backbone Infrastructure (NOFBI), which Mr Poghisio said is substantially ready.
In late March, TEAMS board members visited Mombasa to inspect terminal equipment- power feeding and transmission equipment, SDH and network monitoring equipment that will be used to light the entire length of the cable and to provide a point of connection for the submarine cable to the terrestrial infrastructure in the country.
Mr Poghisio said NOFBI had already connected to Kenya’s major towns and border points, while connections to district headquarters were almost complete.
“This is why you have been seen the digging, cabling and laying of cables along our roads, from Mombasa to Malaba, Lokichogio, and Mandera through Garissa all the way to Kisumu, Namanga, and to all our border points,” he said.
He said once TEAMS is connected to NOFBI and switched on Kenya will have bandwidth, high speed connectivity and bulk capacity, making the country a communication hub for the Great Lakes region.
The Minister acknowledged that piracy was an issue of concern, but added that the international community had agreed to provide security for the ship.
“These are concerns we have but are being addressed. We know it will be secure and will land in Mombasa on time,” he said.
ASN Project Manager Lionel Weens said the fibre optic cable was well protected from aggressions of fishing activities and Ship anchoring.
Lionel said the sub-marine cable will be amplified using repeaters at specific intervals to regenerate the signals.
TEAMS project shareholding ratio includes Safaricom, Telkom Kenya and the government all with 20 per cent of the shares, (KDN) Kenya Data Network with 10 per cent, Wananchi Online with 5 per cent; Jamii Telecom; 3.5 per cent and Access Kenya and Flashcom; 1.25 per cent.
Others are Econet and Africa Fibre Net of Uganda.
The Kenyan shareholders have pledged Sh8.6 billion while the difference will be raised by United Arab Emirates Telecom Operator, Etisalat.