Project to connect eight countries from Sudan to South Afirca
CAIRO: Alcatel-Lucent signed this month to begin construction of the second phase of a 10,000 km submarine cable system to connect eight East African countries, providing conventional calling services and broadband access to the region.
Initiated in 2003 as the East Africa Submarine Cable System Initiative, the project is supported by the World Bank, the Development Bank of South Africa and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development. Although contract details have not been released, the project is estimated to be worth about $300 million.
Alcatel-Lucent was awarded the contract in July, 2006 after the project’s funding problems were finally resolved.
The project marks another step in Alcatel-Lucent’s increasing involvement in Africa and the Middle East. On his first trip to Cairo last month, Bell Labs President Jeong Kim said the region possessed vast potential in the telecommunications sector provided governments recognize the need and benefits of improved data transfer services and prioritize spending on infrastructure and research projects.
“At some point, you have to make an investment, Kim told The Daily Star Egypt. “Bright minds exist everywhere. It is through collaboration with other people that you can advance.
Kim pointed to South Korea as an example of a country that “made a concerted effort to develop its infrastructure and wireless communication, which created the momentum necessary for the development of other industries.
According to an Alcatel-Lucent statement, the East African cable project is scheduled for completion in 2008 with the constructed network expected to offer a regional data-transfer capacity of 320 gigabits per second.