Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki who launched the 5,000-kilometer cable which started from Fujairah in the UAE to Kenya under the Indian Ocean on Friday in Mombasa, said that the landing of the cable was of “historic proportions” since the “economies of today are largely driven by internet and other ICT connections.”
The 130 million US dollars TEAMS cable will link Kenya’s coastal town of Mombasa with Fujairah and will also connect other east African countries to international communications networks.
Speaking at the launch in Mombasa, Kibaki directed that the youth should be trained on ICT and directed the ministry of information to start such programmes.
“I am directing the Ministry of Information and Communication to come up with programmes for the training and development of youth nationwide, to catch the first generation of truly digital Kenyans,” he said.
The president also directed the ministry to speedily adopt ICT in their strategic plans in order to realize the full benefits of technology, for the good of the country.
He added that the Eastern Africa coast was the longest coastline in the world without a fibre-optic cable connection to the rest of the world.
“The project has connected our country with the rest of the world and harnessed the power of Information Communication Technologies. This is a great enabler for growth, and development of our country,” said President Kibaki.
The project is an innovative public-private partnership between the government and corporate stakeholders. President Kibaki said the project, which will see faster global connectivity will stimulate economic growth.
The TEAMS cable is a joint venture by a consortium of the government and Kenyan operators who hold 85 percent and UAE-based mobile operator, Etisalat with 15 percent.
The government has invested 8.6 billion shillings in the project with the Dubai consortium putting in an additional 1.5 billion shillings.
Shares allocated to each local operator represent a pro-rata cost of the construction of the cable. Alcatel-Lucent Submarine Networks (ASN) laid the cable, sponsored by the Kenyan government and private telecom companies.
The laying of the Teams cable underlines the stiff competition in the African broadband market.
Kenya has already been placing a terrestrial cable connecting different parts of the country to prepare for the arrival of the Teams submarine cable. Once the cable lands in Mombasa, it will be connected to other terrestrial fiber-optic cables including the country’s national fiber backbone.
“I am confident that the people of our region, especially the youth, will be the first to rush to savour the joys and high resolution qualities of the fastest Internet connections that will be offered by the undersea cable project.”
He said that the next step would be the full completion of the construction of land-based infrastructure, which will make ICT the main pillar of Vision 2030, Kenya economic blueprint.
“The opportunities that are about to be opened up by the TEAMS project are tremendous. Readily accessible bandwidth will not only lower telecommunications costs but also provide new opportunities practically in all sectors,” he said.
He said with the launch, Kenya was now equipped with one of the most advanced and cost effective, nation-building tools.