Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Tanzania Starts Laying US$600 million Undersea Cable

Tanzania's efforts to set up a communication system to connect international broadband networks started with the laying of a US$600 million undersea cable in Dar es Salaam on Wednesday.

An official from the Seacom Company, the private firm implementing the project, said that the undersea fibre optic cable has been laid down in the Indian Ocean water of commercial capital Dar es Salaam. The trials for the new communication system have been set for March 2009.

Speaking to reporters in Dar es Salaam, Seacom Tanzania managing director Anna Kahama said the project was expected to be complete by June this year. The new technology, which is alternative to the satellite system, is set to lower telecommunications costs by 95 percent, Kahama said.

"Currently, satellite costs about US$300 per megabyte per second while the use of fibre optic cables will cost US$100 per megabite per second," she said.

This is the first fibre optic cable of its kind in East Africa. The cable will be connected to the fibre optic centres in Mozambique, South Africa, Kenya, Egypt, India and Djibouti.

Four Tanzanians are currently undergoing training in India on how the system works. On returning they will assume the positions of station manager, engineer and cable station technical technicians at a centre in Dar es Salaam.

Seacom will be the system's service provider on the East Coast of Africa, linking Southern and East Africa, Europe and Southern Asia.

The company's construction manager, Chriss Albert, said the technology was now common in most parts of the world - except Africa.

"This is high-performance optical transmission equipment," he said. "It connects customers to inland terrestrial networks and other cable landing stations all over the world."

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