Story by NATION Correspondent
Publication Date: 11/17/2007
The Industrial Promotion Services (IPS), part of the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development, yesterday joined other African investors in backing the construction of a US$ 650 million undersea optic fibre cable that will link Africa to other parts of the world.
The cable will link Mozambique, Madagascar, Kenya, and Tanzania with international broadband cables in South Africa, India and Europe (France).
The 15,000-kilometre long state-of-art cable is expected to be ready for service in 2009 and will provide faster, cheaper, broadband capacity for Africa.
“The agreements signed today make the SEACOM broadband cable a reality for Africa, and with it access to much cheaper, much faster fibre optic links between countries in the south and east of the continent to the rest of the world,” said Lutaf Kassam, the group managing director of IPS (Kenya).
“The project will, in turn, spur economic growth and social development in the region through employment and connecting business opportunities,” he said.
The partnership is a milestone in the development of advanced broadband infrastructure for Africa. “Ten years ago, very few believed African markets were capable of the tremendous growth experienced in the mobile industry. Today, we see the dawn of a similar revolution in the growth of data communications,” said SEACOM president Brian Herlihy.
East Africa is the only part of the world without access to international cables and is desperate for low cost, high quality, international bandwidth. The estimated cost of satellite bandwidth on a monthly lease ranges from $1,700 to $6,000 per megabit/second per month. The same bandwidth on the SEACOM cable will be approximately 20 per cent of current costs.
Investors in SEACOM are IPS (Kenya) (25 per cent), an arm of the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development, Venfin Limited (25 per cent), Herakles Telecom LLC (25 per cent), Convergence Partners (12,5 per cent), and the Shanduka Group (12.5 per cent).
Nedbank Capital, the investment banking arm of Nedbank Limited, was appointed as the Mandated Lead Arranger for all debt funding requirements of the project.