SME News

Kenya’s fifth fibre cable to double internet capacity

A fifth undersea fibre optic cable is set to land in Kenya, that would double the country’s internet capacity.According to Bitange Ndemo, the permanent secretary for the Ministry of Information and Communication, a Middle Eastern company was in the process of contracting suppliers to lay the undersea cable.

At present, Kenya’s four undersea cables cumulatively provide the country with a capacity of about 8.56 Tbps. The four undersea cables – EASSy, TEAMS, SEACOM, and LION-2 – link Kenya to the global digital world. At first, Kenya relied on satellite access, but bandwidth and prohibitive costs were a handicap to growth in web access. After the fifth cable is laid, Kenya’s bandwidth capacity will double to more than 15 terabytes (Tbps) per second.

The Permanent Secretary said that this move, with increased network capacity, is in line with Vision 2030 which demands for high speed data. Currently, the country uses only 6% of its bandwidth capacity.

Bitange Ndemo said that the existing capacity would be used up in the next five years and there would be a high demand as they had planned to digitize schools and hospitals.

However, it is not clear whether increased data capacity will reduce the internet prices – at least by 90% as was expected – after the 2009 landing of The East African Marine Cable System (TEAMS).

The industry players have blamed the high prices on the competition by inland cable providers that has been accompanied by heavy infrastructure investments.

It was seen that some sections of the country had been left with no internet following frequent cuts in the undersea fibre connections. To avoid this and provide back up, Dr Ndemo said that the government was holding talks with the Middle Eastern cable providers to find a different landing point in Mombasa.

He said that the government did not want the fifth cable to land at the same place as the other four cables and wanted them to land elsewhere, it would provide a backup. He added that there was a plan by the government to construct two level four data centres within the upcoming Konza Technopolis. These centres would be funded through Public Private Partnerships (PPPs).

The forum saw Kenya’s ICT policies reviewed with an aim of increasing access to technology, creating employment opportunities, and bridging the digital divide.

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