Friday, August 01, 2008


The Kenya Somali coast is proving a difficult route for the laying of the Eastern Africa Fiber optical cable managed by the Kenya government.

An optical fiber (or fibre) is a glass or plastic fiber that carries light along its length and which are widely used in fiber-optic communication, which permits transmission over longer distances and at higher data rates than other forms of communications. It speeds and supports communication in the form of Internet, satellite etc.

Fibers have many uses in remote sensing.

To avoid the politically insecure coast of Somalia, Kenya is seeking an alternative route on which to lay the TEAMs fiber optic cable. The government is considering laying an extra 90 kilometers of fiber to ensure that the cable passes through international waters instead of crossing into Somali territory, said Victor Kyalo, deputy CEO of the Kenya ICT Board.

Somalia has been rocked by civil war since 1991 and has since been divided into Somaliland, which claims some authority and South, consisting of Puntland and an area claimed by both the interim government and the Union of Islamic courts.

With the confusion over Somalia's leadership, pirates have taken to terrorizing any vessel that dares to venture into Somali waters, making for what the U.S. calls the world's most dangerous coastal region.

The laying of the TEAMs (The East African Marine System) cable is scheduled to begin in December, but there are options still to be considered due to security risks, Kyalo told representatives of the five East Africa Community states.

Two weeks ago, Bitange Ndemo, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information and Communication, led a government delegation to the Alcatel-Lucent Submarine Networks offices in France to inspect progress on cable construction, which Kyalo said is on schedule.

The Kenya government owns 85 percent of the cable, while the United Arab Emirate's Etisalat owns 15 percent. Out of the government stake, 80 percent is held by the private sector, with ownership divided between Safaricom, Telkom Kenya, KDN, Econet, Wananchi Telecom, Jamii Telkom, Access, Inhand, Flashcom, Equip and Uganda's Fiber Network.