Alcatel-Lucent wins deal to construct Africa's undersea cable

Staff Writer
13 Mar 2007


(Xinhua via NewsEdge) Alcatel-Lucent has won a $240 million dollar contract to construct an undersea telecommunications cable around East Africa expected to cut the cost of phone calls on the continent, officials said.

A statement from the company said the 10,000-km East Africa Submarine System (EASSy), which was constantly held back due to arguments over the cost of access, is expected to spur investment and make communications more accessible to the poor.

'This project represents a milestone in the development of the African communication infrastructure, where there is a strong need for optical connectivity,' said Sammy Kirui, chairman of the EASSy Project Management Committee and managing director of Telkom Kenya.

The EASSy project will initially link eight countries from Sudan to South Africa, via Djibouti, Somalia, Kenya, Tanzania, Madagascar and Mozambique.

There will also be links to other major submarine systems, to provide an important international gateway.

'With completion scheduled by the end of 2008, the EASSy submarine network will deliver a regional capacity of 320 Gbps, allowing consumers to benefit from more accessible and affordable broadband Internet services,' the statement said.

The project has been held back by squabbles mainly between Kenya and South Africa over financing, ownership and about how much access to the fiber optic cable would cost.

Kenya had accused South Africa of trying to dominate the project and for pushing the idea of governments managing the 10, 000 km cable that will link the port cities of Durban and Port Sudan. South Africa denies the claims.

The project is expected to cut Internet costs to nearly one third of current levels over the next five years and boost investment in Africa.

© 2007 Xinhua News Agency

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