SEACOM (African cable system)
76.25 % African investors; 23.75 % Herakles Telecom
see the landing points section
|Design capacity||4.2 Tbit/s|
|Currently lit capacity||100 Gbit/s|
|Date of first use||July 23, 2009|
SEACOM is a submarine cable operator with a network of submarine and terrestrial high speed fibre-optic cable that serves the East and West coasts of Africa. SEACOM’s reach extends to and from Europe, India and Asia. The pan-African network uses bundled backhaul, open access points of presence (PoPs) and global partnerships to provide end-to-end wholesale connectivity around the world for African network operators.
In service since July 2009, SEACOM has increased the availability of International bandwidth ten-fold and more so in many of Africa’s most underserved nations. The only privately funded and truly neutral carrier in its market, SEACOM also offers a comprehensive suite of Internet Protocol (IP) and clear channel services to the wholesale market.
Cable structure and technology
Express fibre pairs are provided from Kenya to France to a PoP in Marseille with 640Gbs capacity, as well as from Tanzania to India into the PoP in Mumbai with 640Gbs capacity. SEACOM has also procured fibre capacity from Marseille to London as part of the SEACOM network.
The SEACOM cable is deployed with a mixture of double armour cable, single armour cable, special protection cable (with a metallic wrap below the insulator, rather than steel wires), and lightweight cable without armour, used in deep waters. Shallower water cable typically has more protective armour than offshore, deeper cable.
The cable is a loose tube design that determines the amount and relative location along the transmission path of each type of fibre. Multiple fibre types are used in the cable: dispersion shifted and non-dispersion shifted.
The repeaters are optical amplifier repeaters, using erbium-doped amplifiers. There are over 150 repeaters in the SEACOM system. They’re spaced along the cable many tens of kilometres apart with the distance between repeaters varying depending on the segment in the system. Repeater spacing is determined by a variety of factors, including the transmission capacity of the fibres in the cable and the distance between terminals terminating fibres in the cable.
On 23 July 2009, the 17,000 km (9,300 mi) subsea fibre optic cable began operations, providing the East African countries of Djibouti, South Africa, Tanzania, Kenya and Mozambique with high speed Internet connections to Europe and Asia. The cable was officially switched on in simultaneous events held across the region, in Mombasa and Dar es Salaam.
Upon being switched on, the owners of the cable stated that it would reduce Internet costs by up to 95% to wholesale customers while providing a far greater speed of Internet connection. It may take a long time for the benefits to reach ordinary citizens, particularly those who live in remote rural areas.
Seacom is privately funded, and ~75% African owned. Initial private investment in the SEACOM project was US$$375-million: $75-million from the developers, $150-million from private South African investors and $75-million as a commercial loan from Nedbank (South Africa). The remaining US$75m was made by Industrial Promotion Services (IPS), the industrial and infrastructure arm of the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED). The IPS investment was funded by $15m equity, and a total of US$60.4m debt from the Emerging Africa Infrastructure Fund (EAIF) and the FMO.
Current ownership structure is as follows: Industrial Promotion Services with 26.56%, Remgro Limited 25%, whilst Convergence Partners and Shanduka hold 12.5% each. Herakles Telecom LLC holds a 23.44% stake in the project.
The cable is variously described as a $600- and a $650-million project, and has seen a number of upgrades to landing station infrastructure, national backhaul and increases to carrying capacity, with an increase to 2.6Tbit/s in May 2012, with the intention to double this by mid-2013.
The cable landing points are:
- Marseille, France
- Mombasa, Kenya
- Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania
- Maputo, Mozambique
- Mtunzini, South Africa
- Mumbai, India
In addition, as of May 2012, backhaul solutions allow onwards connectivity from the coastal landing points to:
- London, United Kingdom
- Johannesburg, South Africa
- Cape Town, South Africa
- Durban, South Africa
- Kijitonyama, Tanzania
- Nairobi, Kenya
- Kampala, Uganda
- Kigali, Rwanda
- Dawele, Djibouti border with Ethiopia
- Galafi, Djibouti border with Ethiopia
- Beitbridge, South African border with Zimbabwe
- Mutare, Mozambique border with Zimbabwe
- Onseepkans, South African border with Namibia
- Ramatlabama, South African border with Botswana
- Mahamba, South African border with Swaziland
- Caprivi, Namibia border with Zambia
SEACOM Partner Network landing points include:
- Yzerfontein, South Africa
- Swakopmund, Namibia
- Luanda, Angola
- Muanda, DRC
- Pointe Noir, Congo
- Lagos, Nigeria
- Accra, Ghana
- Seixal, Portugal
- Fujairah, UAE
Social and economic implications
East Africa has been one of the last significant regions lacking broadband Internet access. Broadband access is expected to narrow the digital divide between Africa and wealthier geopolitical regions and is also expected to be a major advantage to many local industries, particularly those based on offshoring.
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