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Where Africa and Technology Collide!

East Africa: Praying to the Undersea Cable Gods

The most recent technology review has a good article on the transoceanic internet cable build-out happening world wide. It’s got a nice little map visual too, which allows you to see where things are (white lines) and where new undersea cables are being installed.

East Africa is one of the last major regions in the world to not have true international broadband (aka: “fat pipes”). Having just returned from a 3-week stint in Nairobi, I can tell you that these cables will make a huge impact on the local market.

Uploading video, watching video, uploading images, sending emails with images, receiving images, downloading applications, uploading zip files, FTP, VoIP calls… and more. All that stuff is painfully slow or impractical to do right now. You don’t realize how much you use these types of service in the rest of the world, until you’re forced to do without for an extended period of time.

I, for one, will continue to pray to the undersea cable gods that East Africa will see this cable by this time next year.

[Sidenote: I know a certain individual is interning at Google doing a paper on how the lack of bandwidth has crippled web business in East Africa. I’m looking forward to seeing it.]


  1. v true Hash. East Adrica’s time has come. I am directly involved as a shareholder in one of the projects (TEAMs) and the progress is good. This week we have a team from the shareholders in France at the Alcatel-Lucent plant to view the parts of the cable thathave been constructed to date as well as get confirmation on rollout schedule. The ship should take to water sometime in October laying the fiber between Fujairah and Mombasa. Please keep praying!

  2. a couple of mistakes in the technology review. First the TEAMS project ‘in-service’ date is July/August 2009, not 2010. Secondly the cable doesn’t terminate where shown but actually in Fujairah which is across the Arab peninsula and where all the major cables in/thru the Middle East pass (and also headquarters for Etisalat).

  3. Thanks Hash. Just yesterday, I was researching broadband rollouts in Africa (where, capacity, the players). East and Southern Africa look promising, but West Africa seems woefully under-implemented with no planned expansions in the next two years. Could this be true?

  4. Very much looking forward to this as I’m the ‘communications’ guy for my organization and will be doing my internet activity from Nairobi. We’ve been pondering how our bases in Sudan may get their own sat, which would mean both a faster and more stable internet connection than what I can get in Nairobi.

    PS. I’ve been told that all of Kenya’s internet passes through government computers, which is a huge clog in the pipe. Their network is old, outdated, etc. Any insight on that Hash?

    Counting the days for that ‘fat pipe’ in Nairobi. Next stop, Sudan? Okay, that may be a ‘pipe dream.’

  5. interesting article. im curious about verizon(UUNET) selling there broadband holdings in SA a friend works for verizon and evaluated the business case of the SA or Africa holdings and concluded the payoff was too far. hence the sell to MTN. question is if verizon(UUNET) couldnt make money in SA a much larger economy how are the TEAMS and SEACOMS and Others gonna make money unless they have factored in a long term pay off.

    Also bu buying verizons business(UUNET) did MTN just stealthily get into the kenyan market ?

  6. Wouldn’t be a good idea to ask the Chinese to do this connection work in partnership with African businesses? Would this be possible, realistic?
    I say the Chinese because I guess most technical tools related to the internet and to networks in general are from China.

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