SEACOM, the new undersea cable that will soon run the length of Africa's east coast and connect to South Asia and Europe, has signed with Interoute for direct connectivity to Europe. SEACOM has been making news lately, as they bring fiber ashore along the routes to places that have never had such connectivity. Their website claims 93 days to completion, which suggest it will be in service sometime this summer. To connect with Interoute, they will land in Marseilles, France. Interoute has been looking southward quite a bit lately, adding undersea cable connectivity to Malta and to Tunisia. Is everyone else sleeping or is it the Dubai connection that is helping their advance?
When it comes to the internet, it is so easy to forget Africa. Traffic has been growing at a phenomenal rate in percentage terms, but it's easy to grow like that when you start from near zero. Now most of that is due to the state of economic development in the region, however there is something to be said for the chicken and egg problem. With no customers to hook up, nobody wants to build a cable. But without a cable, potential customers are limited to slow, expensive satellite connections and never grow.
But for the countries being hooked up - Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, Madagascar, and South Africa - that problem will soon be history. Lots of fanfare will surely accompany the grand opening, but will traffic really flourish? With the cable in place, much will come down to what operators and governments in the newly connected countries actually do with it. As we all know, building the cable is the easy part - operating it profitably and nurturing the bandwidth ecosystem around it is much, much harder.