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Connecting Africa

InterComms looks at Africa’s main interconnection company

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Byron Clatterbuck, Chief Executive Officer, SEACOM
Byron Clatterbuck, Chief Executive Officer, SEACOM

Competition in Africa’s fibre broadband market is likely to accelerate during 2018, as major telecom players move to capture customers and entrench their position in the market, says Byron Clatterbuck, Chief Executive Officer at SEACOM. “In the markets where we operate—East Africa and southern Africa—there’s a land grab underway,” says Clatterbuck.

SEACOM offers carriers, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and Content Providers a range of carrier grade connectivity services interconnecting major centres across Africa and the World.

SEACOM’s Ethernet Service provides flexible point-to-point and point-to-multipoint EoMPLS connectivity between major African and International interconnection points. Investment in metro connectivity, together with partnerships with leading regional service providers enable SEACOM to deliver services directly into customer premises across Africa and the globe.

Fibre Optic Cable
Fibre Optic Cable

Provisioned across SEACOM’s robust IP/MPLS, our Ethernet service offers customers granular bandwidth with up to 10 Gigabits per second. It also allows for rapid upgrades and on-demand burst capabilities, to ensure the service can meet the evolving needs of customer networks.

African IP Transit allows service providers and content providers the ability to leverage our large African IP footprint, giving them direct, cost-effective access to content and end-users across the African continent.
They guarantee low-latency routes between African points of presence, without needing to route traffic via international interconnection points in Europe or the Middle East, ensuring an improvement in end-user experiences.

Connectivity as a catalyst for sustainable development

Fast and reliable Internet connectivity is one of the most important threads weaving together the social and economic fabric of modern society, because it facilitates easy communication and rapid access to knowledge. It connects learners at schools and universities to vast repositories of learning materials; enables governments to empower citizens and communities with easy access to information and services; and allows businesses of all sizes to supercharge productivity and transact with customers and suppliers across the globe.

As such, broadband access is the key to accelerating East Africa’s economic growth and powering its transition from a resourced-based to a knowledge-based economy. It could play an important role in improving employment and prosperity across the region.

Additionally, African governments and multilateral institutions such as The United Nations (UN) agree that broadband access is one of the most important factors in reducing poverty and promoting long-term economic and social development in East Africa. They are positioning Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) among the most important factors for development over the next few years.

Crew works aboard CS Tyco Resolute to lay cable
Crew works aboard CS Tyco Resolute to lay cable

Yet, across East Africa, many people, communities and businesses still lack access to broadband services that are fast, affordable, reliable and accessible. Where fixed-line infrastructure exists, much of it is old or degraded, or is not lit to extract its full potential; many, if not most parts of the region, lack the basic infrastructure required to deliver high-quality Internet access a cost that most people can afford.

This is why SEACOM is investing in building fibre infrastructure across Kenya’s major centers, with the goal of providing high-speed Internet access that can transform the way businesses, learning institutions and government operate.

Fibre offers the capability to move large amounts of data at high speed, with the ability to provide reliable and swift upload and download speeds. Additionally, as a dedicated resource, fibre allows each end-user to enjoy boundless capacity without much congestion.

SEACOM has already observed that improving broadband access levels in African countries helps to catalyze GDP growth, facilitate social development and improve productivity. Yet there is still much work to be done before we close the digital gap between the rich countries in the northern hemisphere and sub-Saharan Africa’s major economies.

Though it may take some time to close the digital divide, we are steadily moving towards a world where the majority of entrepreneurs in Africa will be as well connected as those in Europe. Figures from the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) show that there were nearly 55,000 fixed fibre optic subscriptions in June 2017, double the approximately 27,500 connections recorded in June 2016.

Businesses, across all sectors, can be more productive and efficient by harnessing new technology. At the same time, they gain access to a global marketplace of billions of people and millions of companies, and can attract international investment and join international supply chains. As more organizations and people gain access to broadband, economic benefits multiply at an exponential rate.

Improved infrastructure and access to Information and Communications technologies can create economic opportunities, lower costs and raise productivity. This can foster social and economic inclusion, ultimately contributing to shared prosperity.

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