Chinese telecoms equipment vendor ZTE is one of a number of international firms to have expressed an interest in participating in Safaricom’s recently-announced tender for firms to roll out, operate and maintain a 4,000km national fibre-optic network. Business Daily Africa reports that the cable, which has been provisionally priced at KES4.8 billion (USD50.5 million), will become the second largest inland network, behind the government’s much-maligned 4,300km National Optic Fibre Backbone Infrastructure (NOFBI). Three different equipment suppliers were chosen to deploy NOFBI, with each vendor responsible for one of the three regional sections; Huawei deployed networks in Nairobi and the central region, ZTE covered the west, and Sagem handled the rollout in the coastal and north-eastern zones.
Although Safaricom has yet to confirm the identities of any interested parties, citing confidentiality issues, ZTE is the fourth company to make public its intention to participate, following local firms Jamii Telecoms Ltd (JTL), Kenya Data Networks (KDN) and Soliton Telemec. That said, Safaricom’s director of corporate affairs, Nzioka Waita, has confirmed that several other global vendors have thrown their hats into the ring, commenting: ‘We are seeing a wide range of interest from both local and international vendor community and which offers us with good ground for negotiating the pricing’.