Thursday, March 31, 2011

Orascom Reduces Telecel Stake to Comply With Zim Law

Bloomberg reports that Egyptian cellular group Orascom Telecom Holdings has confirmed that it is in talks with the Zimbabwean government on reducing its stake in GSM operator Telecel Zimbabwe from 60% to 49% to comply with an indigenisation law requiring locals to own majority stakes in foreign companies. 

The firm’s statement was published in the state-backed Zimbabwean newspaper The Herald.

Tunisia Takes Over Doubtful Orange Stake

The interim government of Tunisia has confiscated the 51% stake in Orange Tunisia held by members of overthrown president Ben Ali's family via the Investec Group. 

After first freezing the Orange assets of Ben Ali's son-in-law, Marwan Moubrouk, along with those of his ex-wife and upward of 100 assorted friends and family, the new government has decided to confiscate the shares and set up an inquiry to try and work out what should be done with them. The commission has six months to reach a conclusion.

It is rumoured that France Telecom may be encouraged to purchase the outstanding shares, although this would necessitate a change in the current foreign direct investment (FDI) laws. 

Orange Tunisia launched its wireless network in May last year and by the end of December had garnered 1.17 million subscribers, to give it a 9% share of the market.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Uganda's Opposition Calls for MTN Boycott

Uganda's main opposition party has started a campaign calling upon its supporters to boycott the services of the country's largest mobile telecommunications company, MTN Uganda Ltd. blaming it for disrupting the opposition poll tally center during the February 18 presidential polls.

The opposition blames MTN Uganda, a unit of Johannesburg-listed MTN Group Ltd. of intentionally jamming the telephone lines that the opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) had bought for its polling agents to transmit results to its tally center on February 18, according to Wafula Oguttu, the FDC spokesman.

"They sabotaged our tally center and we could not tally our own results," he said."MTN is involving itself in Ugandan politics."

Click here to find out more!According to Oguttu, the FDC has started a nationwide campaign, calling its supporters to discard MTN sim cards. The opposition also accuses the company of giving campaign funds and free airtime to the ruling National Resistance Movement party.

An MTN spokeswoman denied the opposition allegations and said the company is considering legal action after party leaders publicly destroyed and burned MTN sim cards at a press conference on Friday last week.

"We have never received a formal complaint about the alleged jamming of the lines from the FDC," she said.

MTN has at least 6.5 million cell phone subscribers in Uganda

Veteran opposition leader, Kizza Besigye had set up a parallel tally center to tally his own votes saying he had no faith in the ruling party-appointed electoral body, however, the center was sabotaged, before being invaded by security forces on February 18.

The FDC claimed to have only tallied results from around 30% of the polling stations, showing Besigye in the lead with at least 47% of the vote, compared with President Yoweri Museveni's 46% by the time the center was sabotaged.

The Electoral Commission later announced Museveni as the winner with 68% of the vote, but the polls were marred by a number of irregularities, according to observers.

Uganda Takes Over Libyan-Owned UTL

The Ugandan government has taken over management of troubled Libyan-owned telecommunications company, Uganda Telecom Ltd. (UTL), Uganda's minister of information and communications technology said Tuesday.

As a regulator and a minority shareholder in Uganda Telcom, the government has decided to take over management of the company to safeguard its interests and the interests of its customers, Aggrey Awori said in a telephone interview with Dow Jones Newswires.

"We cannot sit and watch as things get out of hand," he said.

Click here to find out more!The Libyan Arab Portfolio, or LAP Green Network, holds a controlling stake in Uganda Telecom.

According to Awori, the move is part of government's decision to implement the United Nations-initiated sanctions against Libya. Last week, the Ugandan central bank took over Libya-owned Tropical African Bank.

Uganda Telecom has been struggling to meet payment obligations to other Ugandan telecom companies arising from interconnection fees. A company spokesman couldn't return calls seeking comment immediately.

Earlier this month, MTN Uganda--a unit of Johannesburg-listed MTN Group Ltd. threatened to block calls to Uganda Telecom over a 20 billion Ugandan shillings ($8.3 million) unpaid interconnection fees that have accumulated over a three-year period.

Airtel Uganda Ltd. also claims that Uganda Telecom owes it UGX8 billion in interconnection fees and had also threatened to terminate calls to the network. Airtel Uganda Ltd. is a unit of India-based Bharti Airtel Ltd.

However, government has prevailed upon the two companies from blocking calls to Uganda Telecom, to avoid inconveniencing the public. People familiar with the situation say that the two companies were now planning to attach some of the properties belonging to Uganda Telecom.

Attachment is a legal process by which a court of law, at the request of a creditor, designates specific property owned by the debtor to be transferred to the creditor, or sold for the benefit of the creditor.

Uganda's foreign affairs minister announced last week that government would freeze Libyan assets worth $375 million; other Libyan-owned companies that have been affected by the sanctions include Tamoil East Africa, National & Housing Construction Company, Laico Lake Victoria Hotel and Libya Oil. 
-Dow Jones Newswires

Al-Lu Chosen For MTN Nigeria DSL Project

Alcatel-Lucent has announced that it has been selected by MTN Nigeria, a subsidiary of South African telecoms operator MTN, for the transformation of the operator’s DSL access and aggregation network.

The vendor’s solution will enable MTN Nigeria to cost-effectively transform its TDM-based transport network into an all-IP powered network, helping the company to realise a simplified, lower cost, highly scalable infrastructure that will grow alongside the firm. 

Alcatel-Lucent’s IP/MPLS-based solution will also enable the operator to generate new revenue streams by leveraging broadband IP to deliver video-rich content and multimedia data services. 

The IP portfolio will allow MTN Nigeria to deliver scalable, evolvable, cost-efficient and fully-managed IP-based transport, allowing the leading operator to reduce operating expenditures and quickly deploy advanced, revenue-generating services. 

‘Since its inception, MTN Nigeria has invested in cutting-edge technology in order to deliver world-class products and services to our customers, stated Ahmad Farroukh, CEO of MTN Nigeria, adding: ‘We are pleased to partner with Alcatel-Lucent to deliver a solution that will improve customer experience.’

MTN Nigeria is the country’s largest mobile operator, with a total of 38.7 million subscribers at 31 December 2010, equating to a market share of 44.3%.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Vodacom Could Re-brand To Vodafone Colours

According to Times Live, South Africa-based telecoms group Vodacom is poised to unveil its new corporate colours at the Orlando Stadium in Soweto on Friday night.

Although Vodacom has yet to confirm the details, mounting press speculation indicates that the firm will be re-branded in line with the red and white colour scheme used by parent company Vodafone, which secured a controlling stake in Vodacom in May 2009.

Vodacom, which also has operations in Mozambique, Tanzania, Lesotho and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), has reportedly budgeted a sum of ZAR200 million (USD29 million) for the re-branding exercise. However, Vodacom is expected to retain its name after the transition, despite Vodafone's global strategy to re-brand all operations in which it has a controlling stake. 

Vodafone, which holds a 65% stake in Vodacom, intends to increase its connection to Vodacom, by rotating executives among its foreign units and allowing Vodacom to leverage its global supply chain as well as introducing in new services pioneered by Vodafone elsewhere.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Starcomms In Talks To Buy Multilinks

Nigerian CDMA operator Starcomms is reportedly negotiating a deal to acquire rival Multilinks, the local unit of Telkom SA, according to Nigerian newspaper THISDAY. 

Despite Telkom’s board having rejected a proposal by former CEO, Reuben September, to merge its Nigerian business with Starcomms back in January 2010, the pair are currently said to be negotiating a price for Multilinks, which was put up for sale in November 2010.

Since then, Multilinks was reported to have attracted interest from Etisalat Nigeria, but this was later denied by the UAE-owned company’s CEO Steve Evans. 

Telkom acquired a 75% stake in Multilinks on 1 May 2007 for USD280 million, and purchased the 25% it did not already own from Kenston Investments in January 2009 for USD130 million.

However, Telkom has failed to turn around the fortunes of the ailing company, which has struggled to survive in Nigeria’s fiercely competitive market, and wrote down the value of Multilinks by ZAR5.2 billion (USD751 million) in the financial year ended 31 March 2010. Telkom CEO Jeffrey Hedberg has estimated the ‘exit cost’ at anywhere between USD100 million and USD180 million.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

South Sudan Prepares New Telecoms New Regulations

The Government of Southern Sudan (GoSS) has requested that telecoms companies operating in the region suspend work there until the administration publishes new regulations for the sector, Reuters reports, citing Hisham Mustafa Allam, chief operation officer for Zain Sudan.

South Sudan is expected to become Africa's newest nation in July 2011 after voting to secede earlier this year. According to Allam, the GoSS’s decision could force Zain, Sudan’s largest mobile operator by subscribers, to postpone some work on base stations and the rolling out of fibre-optics. 

Though he expected the company’s mobile licence would be valid in South Sudan after July, Allam said he could not be ‘100 per cent’ sure that would be the case. ‘There's potential for South Sudan, but there are big challenges,’ he said, adding: ‘One of the problems we have right now is it costs lots of money to build sites and do a rollout (of fibre) in the south.’

He stated that deployment of a broadband network in the region is particularly expensive because the landlocked country has to rely on north Sudan or Kenya for access to submarine cables. 

Kuwait-based Zain has reportedly invested USD300 million – or about 20% of total capital expenditure in Sudan – over the past five years in the south, and has rolled out around 150 base stations in the region.

Advisors Hired to Steer BTC Privatisation in Botswana

Botswana newspaper the Sunday Standard has reported that a consortium of members from Deloitte and local law firm Collins Newman & Co has been hired to advise on the privatisation of Botswana Telecommunications Corporation (BTC). 

The pair won the tender, which was launched late last year, beating off competition from four other local consortiums. ‘Their role as advisors will be to undertake evaluation of BTC assets, develop due diligence, build a structure of shares as well as ensure transaction closures at BTC,’ the Public Enterprises Evaluation and Privatisation Agency (PEEPA) stated.

In November 2010 president of Botswana, Ian Khama, confirmed plans to privatise incumbent telco BTC through an initial public offering (IPO) by April 2011. Under the sale plans a 49% stake will be sold to investors and BTC employees, while the government will retain the remaining 51%.

Shares will be sold to citizens in stages on the condition that when investors wish to dispose of their shares, the government will have the first option to buy them back.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Telkom Kenya Launches Domestic Broadband Services

Telkom Kenya has confirmed that it has launched fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) broadband services in Muthaiga and Parklands, two of Nairobi’s most affluent suburbs. 

Telkom claimed that transmission speeds of up to 8Mbps are now available to subscribers. The service will reportedly be extended to other areas in due course, with triple-play services mooted by end-2011, pending negotiations with TV content providers. 

New double-play tariffs start at KES2,999 per month (USD34.7), rising incrementally to KES6,500. The premium package includes 2,000 free fixed line minutes, and an additional 3,500 mobile minutes.

Telkom Kenya CEO Mickael Ghossein commented: ‘By integrating our copper and fibre infrastructure, our new bouquet of ‘Orange Double-Play’ offers that we are unveiling today, are undoubtedly set to exceed the voice and data communication expectations of our customers. With speeds of up to 8Mbps, we now have a network easily scalable to transmit video signals, just like in developed countries. We are already in talks with partners that will see Orange introduce triple-play services in the near future. Today, we are launching Orange Double-Play to serve residents and businesses in Muthaiga and its environs; however we will soon roll this out further afield into other areas. We have now achieved our dream of delivering true broadband to Kenyan homes’.

If Orange does launch triple-play as planned, it will go head-to-head with the Wananchi Group which launched its own long-awaited triple-play service in December 2010, under the Zuku brand. The fibre package went live in the districts of Kileleshwa, Kilimani, Lavington and Hurligham. Fibre rollout to the remainder of Nairobi and Mombasa is scheduled to be completed during the second half of 2011, whilst Tanzania and Uganda have been mooted for subsequent connectivity. Wananchi intends to pass one million homes in East Africa by 2015.

Vodacom Tz Signs Management Deal With NSN

Vodacom Tanzania has inked a five-year managed services deal with Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN). 

The vendor will take over complete responsibility for the existing Network Management Centre and operations across the radio, transmission and core networks, as well as network planning and optimisation. Under the terms of the deal, 124 Vodacom Tanzania employees will transfer to NSN. No financial details have been disclosed. 

Vodacom Tanzania ended 2010 with just over seven million active subscribers, giving it a market share of 36%.

NetOne Plans Money Transfer System

Zimbabwean state-owned cellco NetOne is planning to launch new mobile money transfer services under the ‘OneWallet’ banner, based on a platform supplied by Gemalto. 

The new solution also enables wages to be paid directly into mobile money accounts, and NetOne intends to work with the government to allow OneWallet to be used for automatic pension payments. Gemalto said that the project would help bring banking services to people in even the remotest areas of Zimbabwe.

SEACOM Expands to Five More African Countries

East African submarine cable operator SEACOM has announced that its services are now accessible from five additional African nations: Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, Swaziland and Zimbabwe. The network expansion is coupled with increasing resilience through its recent acquisition of east and west coast submarine cable capacity. SEACOM’s approach of partnering with established players to provide broadband services will continue as it develops its products and services based on resiliency, service quality and flexibility in line with customers’ evolving needs.

Suveer Ramdhani, SEACOM’s Head of Product Strategy, said: ‘This latest development is integral to the continued development and expansion of the SEACOM network in Africa and in particular to countries that have had limited access to broadband connectivity. We will continue to build relationships to meet our customers’ growing need for resilient and seamless capacity. This is part of SEACOM’s objective to build the African internet.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

TelOne Gets GSM Licence

Zimbabwe’s Postal & Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (POTRAZ) has issued state-owned fixed line telco TelOne with the country’s fourth GSM mobile service provider licence, according to a report on

POTRAZ deputy director-general Alfred Marisa revealed that the watchdog granted TelOne the concession late last year in response to a request for GSM frequencies from the telco when its 20-year telecoms licence was due to expire. The regulator added that it had not given TelOne fixed timelines to roll out mobile services, in light of its financially challenged status.

The state already owns a GSM operator, NetOne, the smallest of the country's three cellcos behind Econet and Telecel. NetOne is currently attempting to boost its flagging fortunes under a state-blessed strategy to find a foreign private sector investment partner, with South Africa's MTN the leading candidate. TelOne has also previously been reported to be in partnership talks with prospective foreign partners, chiefly Telkom South Africa, according to TeleGeography's GlobalComms Database, and the addition of a GSM licence could increase the incumbent's attractiveness as an investment.n the matter.

Nigeria Invites Omen International to Bid for NITEL

Nigeria’s Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) has invited Omen International Consortium, the reserve bidder for state-run incumbent telco Nigeria Telecommunications (NITEL), to reregister its interest in buying the operator, after preferred buyer New Generation Telecommunications repeatedly failed to meet the payment deadlines. 

The British Virgin Islands-registered Omen consortium, which includes China Unicom and Fiber Home Technologies Limited, submitted a bid of USD956.9 million for a 75% stake in NITEL and it mobile arm M-Tel during the latest attempt to privatise the company, held in February 2010. The government began seeking a buyer for a minimum 75% of NITEL and 100% of M-Tel in July 2009 after previous majority shareholder Transcorp divested its stake earlier in the year.

Reuters reports that the BPE has now written to Omen asking if it would be interested in revalidating its reserve bidder status. ‘If your bid is revalidated, it would give the Federal Government the right to invite your consortium or enter into negotiations to take up the offer,’ the letter said, according to a BPE statement.

New Generation’s bid of USD2.5 billion was approved in October 2010, after an investigation into the bidding process led to an eight-month delay. The New Generation consortium – which comprises Minerva Group of Dubai, Nigeria’s GiCell Wireless and technical partner China Unicom – was asked to pay a bid security of USD750 million within ten days from 25 October and was given 60 days to pay the remaining USD1.75 billion. On 5 November the bid security deadline was extended by 20 working days and subsequently to 23 December 2010, after the consortium failed to come up with the funds in time.

However, New Generation failed to meet its extended payment deadline, and in January 2011 the BPE revoked the sale to New Generation and recommended Omen be invited to acquire NITEL, following approval from the National Council of Privatisation (NCP).

Monday, March 14, 2011

Airtel Zambia Minority Shareholders to Sue Over Delisting

Indian mobile giant Bharti Airtel’s bid to delist its Zambian subsidiary from the Lusaka bourse looks set to face further setbacks following reports that minority shareholders are now suing the company.

According to Reuters, the remaining minority shareholders, which account for around 3% of the total stock of Airtel Zambia, have filed an affidavit stating that they refuse to sell their holdings as they are unhappy with both the terms and price of sale proposed by Bharti.

‘The failure to comply with the Companies Act renders the subsequent acquisition notice impotent and without validity,’ the court document said. One sticking point is understood to be that Bharti has not disclosed the price at which it bought the bulk of its shares in the Zambian cellco, making it difficult for minority stockholders to decide on the matter.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

MTN To Cut Links With Uganda Telecom Over Three-Year Debt

A three year dispute over inter-connectivity fees has culminated in MTN Uganda announcing that it is severing interconnectivity with its industry rival Uganda Telecom (UTL), the Daily Monitor reports.

“MTN customers will therefore be unable to place direct calls to UTL subscribers, and vice-versa,” MTN said in a notice on Wednesday. “This action has been necessitated by UTL continuously defaulting on the settlement of its interconnect payments, amounting to about Shs20 billion accumulated over a period of three years,” the statement added.

In an earlier separate interview, UTL company Secretary Donald Nyakairu said the company was in the process of settling MTN’s dues. This, however, seems not to have materialised.

The stand-off comes after a row between the two companies, stemming from 2006 over the unpaid interconnectivity fees ended in UTL failing to pay MTN. UTL has also been in dispute with Warid Telecom and Airtel Uganda over unpaid interconnectivity fees all totalling to over Shs12 billion.

The Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) is also demanding Shs9 billion in unpaid yearly fees from UTL although its Interim Executive Director Godfrey Mutabazi declined to elaborate on the matter.  “Interconnectivity issues are between telecom subscribers,” Mr Mutabazi said yesterday. “We only encouraged dialogue but we do not interfere.” Yesterday, MTN said UTL had unjustifiably and persistently refused to honour their business obligation and attempts to resolve the matter failed.

MTN last year took UTL to court and secured an order to pay the money in dispute.  Court documents obtained by the Daily Monitor indicated that between November 2008 and 2009, MTN demanded Shs7 billion in outstanding interconnectivity fees.

In February 2008, it issued UTL with another invoice demanding another payment of Shs6 billion, also for interconnection fees for March 2007 to December 2007.  UTL paid Shs3 billion but said it would not pay the balance of Shs3 billion which it said was not as a result of domestic traffic which attracts interconnectivity fees but was international traffic with Sudan.

In 2006, Ms GEMTEL a telecom operator in South Sudan requested Uganda to facilitate its calling code. On May 10, 2006, Works Minister John Nasasira wrote to UTL approving a request to extend its network coverage to South Sudan. UTL notified Gemtel that it will grant it usage of code +256 477.  +256 is the official Uganda country code.

On June 22, 2006 UTL informed MTN that it had set up interconnection with GEMTEL adding that it had been assigned +256477 which is a Ugandan calling code. MTN says this is the source of the accumulated fees.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Bharti To Take Full Control of Airtel Zambia

Having confirmed last month that it would reapply to delist its Zambian subsidiary after its initial attempt was rejected, India’s Bharti Airtel has contacted all of Airtel Zambia’s remaining minority shareholders to inform them of its intentions to forcibly acquire the stake in the cellco it does not currently hold. 

According to All Africa, Bharti has sent a letter to those minority shareholders which declined to sell their shares after it launched a mandatory offer in November 2010, with the communication advising the 2,000 or so remaining stakeholders that Bharti had now met all conditions set in the Companies Act which allow it to press forward with acquiring the holding.

‘Since the conditions have been met Airtel is now proceeding to issue this acquisition notice to the minority shareholders within the two-month period specified in Section 237(2) of the Companies Act,’ noted the letter. Bharti will pay ZMK710 (USD0.15) per share, the same price that it offered back in November last year.

MTN Fight With Swazi Regulator Over 3G Licence Persits

According to the Swazi Observer, MTN Swaziland CEO Ambrose Dlamini has assured the cellco's customers that MTN is poised to introduce its commercial 3G network 'soon'.

The Swaziland Post and Telecommunications Corporation (SPTC) declined to grant MTN Swaziland, the country’s sole mobile network operator, a 3G licence. MTN had hoped to received the concession at the end of 2010.

MTN was believed to have carried out a month long pilot of four UMTS base stations last year. It was then granted a temporary 3G licence to cover several events including the Common Market for Eastern & Southern Africa (COMESA) summit, held last August.

The permit was valid from 16 August to 30 September, with 3G services allowed to be offered to post-paid customers only. 

Dlamini commented: 'Swazi MTN is 3G ready, all we have to do is to press a button and make the service available to the MTN network users. We are ready, what is outstanding at the moment is to be granted the appropriate licence by the regulator. As soon as we get the licence, we advise that our customers will experience an immense improvement on the data speeds and all other benefits which will come with the 3G technology'.

However, according to the Times of Swaziland, the SPTC has broken its silence regarding the decision - claiming that MTN demanded that the regulator grant it a an 'exclusive' 3G licence in a secret meeting dated 24 January.

Chairman of the SPTC board of directors Phanuel Vilakati commented: 'To demand that MTN Swaziland be granted licences without applying for them in terms of the [Swaziland Posts and Telecommunications Corporation Act of 1983] would not only be engaging in wrongful conduct but would undermine the purpose of delegating power to the Director of Communications'. 

Vilakati added that the granting of a self provisioning international gateway licence is a matter of government policy, as it concerns issues of national security. He indicated that no 3G licence will be issued until the government has addressed MTN's demands.

In a retaliatory gesture, MTN Swaziland has now filed a court application to have SPTC managing director Elijah Zwane arrested for continuing to connect new customers to MTN’s new fixed-wireless network, following the termination of the two parties' shareholder agreement; until recently the SPTC held a 41% stake in MTN Swaziland on behalf of the government. 

MTN has alleged that the SPTC is unlawfully connecting customers to its network. SPTC's affidavit stated: 'The first respondent (SPTC) admits that it has been operating as a fixed line operator, in addition to other telecommunication services which it is authorised to provide in terms of the [Swaziland Posts and Telecommunications Corporation Act of 1983]. It is incorrect to limit the respondent's interest in mobile telephone services to the joint venture (JV) with the second applicant (MTN)'.

Telecel Says NetOne Is Not Sharing Towers

Orascom-backed mobile operator Telecel Zimbabwe’s CEO Aimable Mpore has accused state-owned rival NetOne of refusing to share cellular tower infrastructure, according to a report in Zimbabwean newspaper The Herald.

In the course of responding to questions on Telecel’s ownership structure from the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Media, Information and Communication Technology, Mpore disclosed that Telecel has had no problems sharing infrastructure with the country’s largest cellco Econet or incumbent PSTN operator TelOne, but claimed that NetOne has dismantled Telecel's equipment ‘because the facilities belong to them.’

Mpore called for state enforcement of site-sharing principles.

Seychelles Gets EUR8 Million For Its International Sub-Marine Cable

The European Investment Bank (EIB) has provided a EUR8 million (USD11 million) loan to the Seychelles Cable Systems Company (SCS) for the installation and operation of the island nation’s first international submarine fibre-optic cable.

The planned 1,930km cable will link the main island of Mahe to the existing Eastern Africa Submarine System (EASSy) in Tanzania, and is expected to be operational by the second half of 2012, according to a report on 

The project will also benefit from a EUR4 million grant from the EU-Africa Infrastructure Trust Fund to support shareholding in the project by the Seychelles government. A statutory dividend from this equity stake will be used to provide free internet access for schools, libraries, hospitals and other social development-related services. 

The EUR27 million overall project cost will be financed through 40% equity and 60% debt, the EIB said. Long-term debt will be co-financed equally by the EIB and the African Development Bank, and equity contributions split between three shareholders – the Government of Seychelles, Cable and Wireless Seychelles and Airtel. 

SCS executive Benjamin Choppy – who is also permanent secretary for ICT in the Seychelles – signed the deal with the EIB, which he called a key milestone for the project, and stressed that the cable will dramatically improve voice telephony and internet access in the Seychelles, with international transmission capacity predicted to be seven times cheaper than current prices.

The EIB previously supported the EASSy project to connect 20 coastal and landlocked countries in East and Southern Africa using a high bandwidth undersea fibre-optic cable and terrestrial links.