Construction has begun on NEPAD’s UHURUNET undersea cable network which is due to be completed in time to provide international communications for the 2010 FIFA World Cup that will take place in South Africa in 2010. The fibre optic submarine segment of the network will initially run from Durban, South Africa, to Port Sudan in Sudan.
Construction of the cable means that African governments must start formulating policies that favour the development of ICT and communication networks in the region, said Radakrishan Roy Padayache,
Ugandan Deputy Minister for Communication.
Governments must ensure that telecom infrastructure becomes available not only in urban areas but also in remote rural areas to ease communication problems, he added.
“This will enable an ordinary person to access the Internet, mobile phone service and fixed-line phones, which is currently not the case,” the Deputy Minister said.
With a capacity of 3.84 terabits/sec, the cable will connect Africa directly to the Indian subcontinent, Middle East, Europe, and Brazil. It also provides for landing points to every coastal and inland
country in Africa.
The completion of the cable network is expected to greatly contribute to reduction of telecommunications costs that have been a hindrance to doing business in Africa.
The submarine segment of the NEPAD network has been named UHURUNET; its terrestrial segment, UMOJANET; and the holding company of the submarine cable BAHARICOM. These words are Swahili, an indigenous African language of the African Union.
UHURU means freedom or independence, which in this case signifies economic independence – a celebration of the 50th anniversary of Ghana’s independence from colonial rule which was celebrated in Accra by the Heads of State in July 2007.
UMOJA means unity. UMOJANET which links all the African countries with ICT broadband signifies the importance of unity of African countries. BAHARI means ocean. This indicates the location of the network. BAHARICO is the company that brings together the investment of Africans across the ocean.
The NEPAD Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV), established under the Kigali protocol to construct, own, maintain and operate the NEPAD ICT broadband infrastructure network, including the undersea cable, will own 30 percent (the single largest investor in the company), the African investors and African ICT companies 45 percent and the international philanthropic and other investors 25 percent.
The e-Africa Commission is NEPAD’s task team for the development and implementation of the NEPAD ICT programme. Together with the Pan African Infrastructure Development Fund it will coordinate and promote the African participation in the submarine cable project.