Not so EASSy going for cable consortium

30 Aug 2006

The Eastern Africa Submarine Cable System (EASSy) project suffered a setback yesterday when less than a third of the participants signed an agreement to oversee the running of the system, reports South Africa’s Business Day. Seven out of 23 countries signed the accord for the long-delayed international fibre-optic network, which aims to lower telephony and internet costs across the region. The project has been held back by squabbles over ownership rights, mainly between Kenya and South Africa, as well as the price of access to the 9,900km cable, which will stretch between Durban and Port Sudan. Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda signed the agreement, whilst other countries, including Kenya, said they needed more time to study details of the scheme. It was hoped that construction would start this month, with commercial services to be launched in the first quarter of 2008. Ministers meeting in the Rwandan capital Kigali yesterday extended the deadline for signing the accord by three months to gain backing from more countries. ‘This is not a setback,’ said Lesotho Communications Minister Thomas Thabane, ‘It is a mere challenge for us to convince others to come aboard.’