Where Africa and Technology Collide!

Reactions to SEACOM Going Live Today

People all over East and Southern Africa have been awaiting faster internet speeds for a LONG time. I, for one, won’t miss hearing the infamous, when the cable comes… quote that plagues so many of our conversations. It’s here. Now.

Seacom MapSEACOM has done a good with PR and reaching out to people via their blog and Twitter accounts. SEACOM’s media team was also uploading video in real-time to their YouTube channel, so click there if you want to hear really bad audio of the speeches… 🙂 They have their new press release out here, if you’re looking for the “official” talk.

SEACOM in Tweets and Blogs

(note: if I missed one, link it in the comments below and I’ll add it here)

Kung Fu Baby and the SEACOM Cable Launch by Joshua Goldstein (Uganda)
“We launched Kung Fu baby and for the first time in Africa, I saw a YouTube video load completely and play in 6 seconds. We ran a speed test and showed 1.8mbps, 10x what we have in the Appfrica office.”

“1.28 Terabits per second-now that’s what I call digital heaven! Seacom, dare I say I love you? Now, don’t make the Africans pay too much!” by @zanibots

Seacom is here but don’t be surprised if nothing changes by Kachwanya (Kenya)
“Shockingly the people at Seacom think that revealing the names of their clients (ISPs) will jeopardize their relationship with others which are not yet on board. May be I am not getting something here but ISPs will only buy the bandwidth from the Seacom if they have somewhere to sell it.”

SEACOM broadband speed test“This is one small MB for my laptop, one giant TB for Africa …” by @Akianastasiou on Twitter

How fast can you read this article? by Arthur Goldstuck (South Africa)
“However, the most dramatic indication of the power of SEACOM was the quality of live video links to Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Mozambique. Addresses by, among other, a range of dignitaries, executives and the President of Tanzania, were carried live to large screens at simultaneous events in each of these countries.”

“This is turning to be another major hoax. Why is the internet so slow as ever? Why is it Seacom not telling us which ISP’s are enrolled?” by @KenyaFocus

“The President of Tanzania envisions having a “Silicon Valley” in Africa – This could have only be imagined thanks to #Seacom” by @SeacomLive

Oh Kenyans, we have been duped again by TrueKenyan
“According to the information already on the public domain, Safaricom have said that the cost of internet will reduce by upto 30-33% over the next five years. Access Kenya still remains mum since it’s charges are exorbitant compared to other ISP’s. Recently UUnet CEO Tom Omariba claimed that cables will only bring down costs by 20-30 percent.”

In the News


  1. re: Kachwanya’s comment on buying bandwidth…

    I think the idea is that ALL ISPs need bandwidth to some degree. The whole point of this exercise is that up until now the only way to get bandwidth was via satellite, the most expensive option. Now, as ISPs contracts with their own providers via satellite fall off, they will turn to the cheaper sea cables.

    Hopefully until those contracts wear off, they will be buying SEACOM’s bandwidth (in smaller portions) to supplement the expensive bandwidth from the VSAT and we all get cheaper and faster internet now. As the VSAT wears off, and they buy more and more bandwidth from SEACOM and the other new sea cables coming, it will continue to get cheaper as more is available and the market will dictate a cheaper price with more supply. The question remains, how many Africans will be buying more internet, increasing demand, increasing expense.

  2. This is great news, and I hope it will really make a difference for people!

    At the same time it makes me think about the asymmetry “bandwidth usage and cost/ability to monetize users” that famous sites like Youtube or Facebook face in the developing world. I have read many articles and studies pointing out that Youtube and Facebook today are only able to efficiently monetize visitors in the US and UK, and to a lesser extent those from Western Europe and other advanced economies. At the same time, users from the developing world are heavy users of such websites, and from a purely financial perspective are net beneficiaries of their services.

    From a commercial perspective, I wonder if the availability of higher bandwidth in Africa will not end up aggravating that problem and eventually force those sites to pull the plug altogether on African users, with paradoxical results for many happy Africans.

  3. @whiteafrican: I am not negative. Infact i am very optimistic. But i am only being realistic. How do you explain the fact that this companies are saying that they will reduce the costs by like 20% and over a period of time. And still at the reduced costs, its far much beyond the cost of the same in like States. Two, and which is my biggest fear, yes we finally have the internet speeds, but where are the skills? What are people like CCK, ICT Board, Gov’t and even real IT firms doing worthy noting apart from teaching people normal/basic computing skills. I really hope the best for my beloved country but i am nevertheless really concerned.

  4. @TrueKenyan – It’s interesting that most of the cynical input from Africa regarding Seacom’s launch today has been from Kenya. You are far from the only one voicing concerns over how this is being handled by both Seacom and the operators. Transparency does go a long way in clearing up things.

    I too would like to go straight to an 80% cut on my data costs. @zulusafari makes a good point about having to balance those costs against (hopefully ending) contracts with the satellite companies for bandwidth. So, my guess is that we’ll see consumer prices drop off over time, not abruptly. My guess is that large organizations will get the cuts much faster, since we’re dealing with groups paying $5000+ a month having enough muscle to push for drops down to $2000.

    On your second point, regarding skills and capacity, that’s another issue entirely. Maybe I’ll tackle that in a blog post of it’s own sometime… 🙂

  5. @TrueKenyan
    There are so many other factors that play into what the end user has to pay for service. The saturation of internet use in the US is exponentially higher than in Kenya. This means in Kenya less people are sharing the cost of the fiber, and all the other infrastructure costs. Hopefully, as Hash mentioned, over time more Kenyans and Africans will come on board to help split up the costs. By then, more sea cables will have arrived (bandwidth supply) and the infrastructure will all be in place, all factors that should lower end user cost.

    You make a good point. But this is a chicken/egg scenario. Hopefully with internet opening up in Africa, not only will the end user be consuming more, but the online economy in Africa will increase and Google/YouTube and the like can use focused advertising as that market grows in Africa. This is already done to some extent when I see ads in Arabic. I know Google can see where I am and is pushing appropriate ads my way (even though I don’t read Arabic… yet).

  6. this will hopefully make internet access around the countries cheaper and more accessible to everyone. The internet cable is basically making the internet accessible, since before it was actually too slow to be used practically on a day to day basis.

  7. The story is the same in all countries, we hope that if the cost is coming down by say 50% that we should enjoy atleast a 40% reduction, with the 10% going to recovery of the cost/investment.. lets wait and see.
    There is also concern in SA that corporate clients ..read wholesale users.. are the only ones who will enjoy the reduction in cost..

  8. I just blogged about it, Now? That is the question!

  9. Jasper Grosskurth (http://www.stt.nl/inAfrica) is now in Mombassa and took these pictures of the Seacom cable -> http://xrl.in/2rt3

  10. I spoke to SEACOM representatives in Mombasa (and took the pics that Bart posted above). They told me that Safaricom has already routed its mobile internet services through SEACOM. So those checking their emails or visting websites on their Safaricom phone in Kenya should already experience the faster connection. Everyone else, including KDN and Access Kenya, seem to be in testing phase. Some will not connect before mid September, but progress is steady.

  11. Seacom has done its part and I think its now time for the local bandwidth retailers to roll out and make use of it. I dont think that internet costs will take the 5 years defined by truekenyan here to go down, infact, on 24th, Safaricom was already live on the service and even though prices may not have been down, quality is better and it means better value for money. Am sure soon we shall see healthy competition from the ISPs and we shall be the beneficiaries.

  12. We really appreciate the warmth from the blogosphere and tweetsphere, and want to thank you all for believing that we could achieve “connecting Africa to the world!” Now it is time for you to really engage your Internet Service Providers and get them to provide you with the broadband you need to grow and prosper.

  13. Great news for Kenya and East Africa guys.

    Please read and listen to my interview about Seacom and Fibre in Africa with Voice of America Africa Correspondent Douglas Mpusa http://tinyurl.com/seacomVOA

  14. My bandwidth is still the same and it still costs too much; I liked it better when the cable was still coming, LOL!

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