Telkom to promote east coast cable project at Cairo

Telkom SA Ltd. will participate in ITU Africa Telecom 2004 in Cairo, Egypt, until Saturday. Says Wally Beelders, managing executive for international and special markets at Telkom: "We have recently signed a memorandum of understanding for the East Coast cable project, partnering with many operators in East Africa."

At the moment, Afrolinque provides bandwidth telecommunication services to Western and Southern Africa, and Northern Africa is served by a number of other submarine cable systems. "The next logical step is to provide the East Coast of Africa with submarine fiber-optic connectivity. A group of telecommunication operators from seven African countries have banded together to connect the last remaining coast of Africa to the digital world. Companies from SA, Mozambique, Madagascar, Tanzania, Kenya and Djibouti are driving the project," Beelders adds.

"Telkom operates the largest network management and operations center in the southern hemisphere, a capability that can be leveraged to support other African operators. The ITU African event provides Telkom with the opportunity to have in-depth discussions with peers. An important issue is for networks to be able to "talk" to each other, and to connect to the world," he continues.

Historically many African operators have routed their traffic through Europe, with a resulting large cash outflow from the continent, which could be harnessed to build a larger African network. The Afrolinque (Sat3/WASC/SAFE) submarine cable, commissioned two years ago, is providing many West Africa countries with the facilities to communicate directly with destinations anywhere in the world. Telkom initiated the project that resulted in a consortium of 36 African operators.

"While in Africa the growth is in the mobile market, it is network interconnection that will see major developments. Mobile services would be very limited if no interconnect services are available, both at a national and International level. I foresee major growth in this area. It will undoubtedly be a major discussion point at the Cairo forum," Beelders concludes.

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