ICASA pleads for undersea cable price cuts

13 Oct 2005

The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) has urged African leaders to help cut prices on sub-Saharan Africa’s only undersea international communications cable in a bid to reduce prices for consumers and boost access to high speed internet services on the continent. ICASA appealed to the 53-member African Union (AU) – a pan-African group aimed at promoting political stability and regional economic integration – to intervene and help lower the cost of access to the West Africa Submarine Cable System at the annual Africa Investment Forum in Johannesburg. The submarine fibre-optic cable runs from the Portuguese town of Sesimbra, near Lisbon, to Dakar and on to Johannesburg, with most countries in southern, central and west Africa tapping into the cable for their international gateway. South Africa’s Telkom has the single largest stake in the undersea system at 13%, alongside 36 other shareholders in the project, including Nigeria’s NITEL. Telkom contributed about USD85 million to the cost of laying down the cables. However, ICASA has had to ask the AU to intervene because neither the operators nor their respective country regulators are able to ask for lower prices under international accords.

South Africa