The first cable to link east Africa to the rest of the world, Seacom's 15 000 kilometre fibre optic undersea cable, remains well on schedule for its June 2009 commercial launch.
In an update on progress on the project, which will link South Africa, Mozambique, Madagascar, Tanzania, Kenya and Ethiopia to India and Europe, the company says that over the past three months, a number of major milestones were reached, including the groundbreaking at the cable station landing sites in Mozambique and Kenya.
Construction has started in Maputo and installation of prefabricated cable station buildings has commenced. In Mombasa, foundations are beginning for similar prefabricated stations, which are in-country, ready for installation on site in December.
These containerised cable station modules were shipped from New Jersey to Africa in September. The remaining cable stations for South Africa and Tanzania are on their way to Africa.
All of Seacom’s high-performance submarine transmission equipment has been shipped from the factories and is also on its way to the cable stations. In addition, the first teams of technical staff for the east African landing stations have been selected and will begin training this month.
Nearly 90% of the Seacom cable has been manufactured. The first load of assembled cable and repeaters is on its way to the region in Tyco Telecommunications’ ship, CS Tyco Reliance. Installation is scheduled to start soon. Loading of the second shipload of cable will begin this month and head towards Africa early in 2009. The third and final shipload of cable and repeaters will follow shortly thereafter.
The entire Seacom network will connect all cable sections together off the horn of Africa in the second quarter of 2009. Testing of the system will then be completed before the commercial launch in June 2009.
Brian Herlihy, Seacom president, says: "The project is progressing in-line with our manufacturing and deployment schedules and we remain firmly on-track to go live in June 2009.
"We are particularly pleased with the recent groundbreakings in Kenya and Mozambique," he adds. "This important milestone gave Seacom an actual land-based footprint that will allow Tyco Telecommunications, our turnkey project contractor, to install the high-speed optical transmission equipment at these sites soon.
"With only eight months to go before the system is ready for service, Seacom remains set to be the first cable to connect east and southern Africa to the rest of the world with plentiful and inexpensive bandwidth."
Seacom, which is privately funded and over 75% African-owned, will assist communication carriers in south and east Africa through the sale of wholesale international capacity to global networks via India and Europe.
The undersea fibre optic cable system will provide African retail carriers with equal and open access to inexpensive bandwidth, removing the international infrastructure bottleneck and supporting east and southern African economic growth. Seacom will be the first cable to provide broadband to countries in east Africa which, at the moment, rely entirely on expensive satellite connections.