Telkom Kenya has commenced the survey for the 30 Terabyte Fiber cable that runs for approximately 4,000 kilometres, interconnecting Djibouti, Somalia and Kenya.
The consortium led by Djibouti Telecoms, Somtel and Telkom Kenya, kicked off the preparation for DARE 1 (Djibouti African Regional Express) – soon to be Kenya’s largest Fiber Optic cable that is expected to land in 2019.
Telkom’s Carrier Services Division Managing Director, Kebaso Mokogi, says: “Telkom will provide the landing point in Mombasa with the opportunity to invest as a shareholder. The new cable has the biggest capacity yet, delivered on newer technology, which puts us ahead in the region.”
Mokogi added that the arrival of the cable comes at a time when the other providers’ cables are coming to the end of their life.
“The life capacity of any cable ranges between 15 – 20 years which the current ones are closing towards. This investment offers diversity in the routing of traffic and also provides for Fiber continuity considering the risk at the high seas.”
The Cable survey is a geographical mapping exercise that involves under-sea navigation to where the cable will be buried, guided by factors like water and wave patterns to ensure the least disruption to the cable when laid.
The process also looks into marine life, the movement of ships and other vessels, ensuring that there is no disruption.
Bruno Fedelli, the Consortium Representative on Board says: “The exercise is weather dependent since the sea has to be as calm as possible. We, however, anticipate taking between 50-60 days after which we’ll review the reports to guide the cost and plan of laying the cable. The survey also helps determine the cable specifications for manufacture.”
Kenya is currently served by four cables; serving the larger East African region. The arrival of the DARE1 cable from Djibouti, which is currently served by other 7 cables, grants Kenya access to multiple gateways to Europe, the East and other parts of the world.
Mokogi adds: “We have the end of the lifeline in sight for our main cables and as a business, we’re planning ahead for continuity with new cables which offer better capacity and newer technology. This will enable us to stay in tandem with the growth of data, whose demand has been growing driven by the adoption of e-services in the market requiring extra capacity and resilient routes in case of downtime.”
Djibouti is the gateway to Africa and remains the most strategic cable route to Europe and Asia.
Political stability and arising economic opportunities in the respective countries have largely inspired the regional initiative to interconnect and is expected to ease the movement and exchange of Internet traffic.
The development of regional backbones such as the DARE 1 will increase access to data in the region, with eventual gains being realised on cost for the end consumers.
Coupled with growing demand for data for business and personal use, the availability of high-speed broadband is expected to deliver faster speeds that will eventually generate more revenue and services, attracting content providers and Content Development Networks looking to foray into the region, which the parties are engaging for consideration.
The investment is anchored on the competitive and economic importance of new applications being adopted by the various markets, in need of next-generation infrastructure.
Kenya, which is East Africa’s biggest economy was the first country in the region to install fibre-optic cables.
The country is served by three undersea cables which include The East African Sub Marine System, which runs from Sudan to South Africa, The East Africa Marine System (TEAMS) and SEACOM which runs from Kenya to South Africa.
Linking Kenya’s coastal town of Mombasa with Fujairah in the UAE, TEAMS is a 5,000-km fibre-optic undersea cable built at a cost of USD 130 million.
The project was a joint venture between the government of Kenya and Kenyan operators, who hold 85 per cent shares and UAE-based operator Etisalat, with 15 per cent.
Cable construction began in January 2008 from the Emirates arriving in Mombasa on June 12, 2009.
The TEAMS cable went live for commercial service on October 1, 2009, after the completion in August 2009.
TEAMS is connected to the rest of the East African countries i.e. Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania and Uganda through cross-border connectivity arrangements.
Currently, there are over 5,000 kilometres of terrestrial cable all around Kenya. The Kenya Data Networks (KDN) has deployed the largest fibre optic network in the region so far.
Kenya plans nation-wide connectivity where all counties are linked through the internet under the National Optic Fibre Backbone (NOFBI).
The implementation of NOFBI aims to ease communication across counties as well as improve government service delivery to citizens such as the application of national identity cards, passports and registration of birth and death certificates.
The project was being implemented in 2 phases: NOFBI Phase 1 and NOFBI Phase 2 with the first phase commencing in 2007 and the second one 7 years later.
NOFBI was being implemented by the Kenya government and the Chinese government funding it.
The Ministry of ICT was oversight while the ICT Authority was the implementing agency.
Chinese company Huawei provided building a national fibre optic infrastructure while Telkom Kenya undertook operations and maintenance.