Uganda: Cable and power projects praised

Story by ELIAS BIRYABAREMA / Daily Nation
Publication Date: 3/15/2008

NATION Correspondent KAMPALA

Two projects in East Africa have won accolades from the world-famous Euromoney Project Finance Magazine as Africa’s best power deal and communication deal of 2007.

The $860 million Bujagali hydro power scheme was recognised in London as the Africa Power Deal of the Year 2007 for being “one of the largest financing in Uganda”, according to a statement released by Bujagali Energy Ltd. (BEL), the company created to run the dam project.

Euromoney also noted the transparent manner in which the Government of Uganda selected BEL. Industrial Promotion Services (Kenya)/Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED) is the lead sponsor of the Bujagali power project.

Euromoney further praised the “complex negotiations for the Engineering, Procurement and Construction contract as well as the financing; efforts to ensure that the project directly benefited the local communities, including electrification of areas near the project site; and comprehensive environmental impact assessment as well as resettlement plans”.

SEACOM, the second project that was crowned as African Communications Deal of the Year for 2007, involves the laying of a fibre optic sea cable to bring broadband Internet to countries in eastern and southern Africa.

It will cost $650 million and the cable, to transmit 1,280 Gb/s (1.2 terabytes), will start off in South Africa and through the coasts of Mozambique, Tanzania, Kenya and Madagascar.

Serve region

It will serve the region’s hinterland through interconnection to terrestrial networks. Construction begun in November 2007 and the cable is expected to be ready in June 2009.

The eastern and southern Africa are the only regions without marine fibre cable connection to the global internet pipeline which has meant that digital traffic has to be routed through costly and slow satellite systems.

IPS/AKFED is the largest investor in SEACOM, being developed by Herakles Capital. Other partners are Venfin Ltd (listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange), Convergence Partners, and the Shanduka Group.

The panel that selected SEACOM hailed its quick reach of a financial close; the fact that it connects Africa to Europe without requiring extensions and the cable’s ability to provide equal and open access to internet retailers.

Completion is expected in June 2009.

Story by ELIAS BIRYABAREMA / Daily Nation

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