News, views and commentary from the telecoms sector across emerging markets and developing countries worldwide

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

South Africa, East Africa gear up for vastly improved capacity

Back in April, I wondered about the impact of the three undersea cables set to land in East Africa - SEACOM, EASSy and TEAMS. I explored the question of whether it really mattered which cable would land first. I also thought about whether the region's hitherto inadequate broadband supply means that there is room for all three. I was quite attracted to the line of argument that there is.

With a few related news items popping up this week, I thought it was high time I had another look at these questions.

SEACOM appears to be very close to completion, with the company's website currently indicating that the service will be fully operational in sixteen days' time. The company has also received warm words of support from a South African customer excited about a "shift towards a high speed, high capacity Internet connectivity environment".

Hillel Shrock, Business Solutions Director at ISP/telecoms service provider Internet Solutions, believes that "Seacom is an important milestone for the local telecommunications industry as it is the first time that South African service providers, other than Telkom, will be able to make a long term investment in the provisioning of high speed, high capacity international connectivity."

In Kenya, meanwhile, telecoms sector players are working out strategic partnerships designed to take full advantage of TEAMS becoming operational. Cedric Lumiti of East African Business Week, wrote this week about the deal struck between market-leading Kenya MNO Safaricom and Jamii Telecommunications, whereby the latter will become the cellco's preferred broadband infrastructure provider. Safaricom CEO Michael Joseph explains that his company has now formally migrated to the new technology-neutral unified licensing regime set out by the Communications Commission of Kenya and can therefore offer a broader spectrum of data services using any technology platform.

All very upbeat - in line with the positive noises I heard at April's East Africa Com conference in Nairobi. If my travels take my back to that part of the world once all the cables have landed and have brought vastly greater capacity online, I'll be interested to learn about how quickly this begins to stimulate economic activity. It will also be good to get a faster connection in my hotel. VPN access was just impossible last time - and there was a lamentable slowdown in Developing Telecoms Watch blogging activity.

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