Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Profile of the Telecoms market in Kenya - part 2

Preamble: After nearly a week of blocking broadcasts of Kenya's leading television stations, Kenyan authorities have relented and allowed most of the broadcasters to resume operations. In this series of articles, we profile the vibrant telecommunications market in Kenya.

See part 1part 2part 3part 4

SECTION 2——Kenyan connection to international cable systems

Kenya is already well-served by international backbone cable systems such as EASSy, LION-2, SEACOM and TEAMS with at least two more (PEACE and DARE)in the planning or early construction stage. The east coast of Africa has relatively much fewer major landing points than the west coast, the most important ones being Mtunzini, South Africa; Maputo, Mozambique; Dar-Es-Salaam, Tanzania: Mombasa, Kenya; and Djibouti.

SEACOM —— This very early 17,000 km East Africa, Europe, and India cable system costing around $650 million and over 75% privately owned by African investors went live in July 2009 with African landing points in Mtunzini, South Africa; Maputo, Mozambique; Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania; Mombasa, Kenya; and Djibouti; and connections in Mumbai, India and Marseille, France. The company has consistently upgraded its theoretical capacity to reportedly 12.8 Tbit/s and has also expanded its network via agreements with local and regional fibre and business partners in Europe and Africa, as well as with backhaul terrestrial networks from its landing points in Africa. It is also a supplier of business services using IP/MPLS, as well as Private Line, VPN, Internet Access and Cloud. In early September 2017, SEACOM CEO Byron Clatterbuck announced the appointment of Tony Tugee, previously head of Enterprise Sales and Retention at Safaricom, as head of the company’s business services in Kenya and also responsible for these activities in Rwanda and Uganda.

EASSy (East Africa Submarine cable System) —- This is a 10,000km, 10 Tbit/s fibre-pair submarine fibre-optic cable system based on Alcatel 100G technology. It links South Africa with Sudan via landing points in Mozambique, Madagascar, the Comoros, Tanzania, Kenya, Somalia and Djibouti. It went live in Kenya in July 2010. The system is owned and operated by a group of 16 African (92%) and international (8%) telecommunications operators and service providers including Telkom Kenya. Investors in the EASSy system have also built terrestrial fibre backhauls to link the land-locked countries of the region to the cable.

LION 2 (=Lower Indian Ocean Network 2) -- This 3,000 km, 1.28 Tbit/s, $79 million cable links Mombasa (Nyali) to the 1,000km LION-1 network that connects Mayotte, Madagascar, Reunion and Mauritius to the rest of the world. It was laid by France Telecom together with its subsidiaries Mauritius Telecom and Orange Madagascar, in partnership with Telcom Kenya. It went live in Kenya in Q1 2012. This cable was also designed to link to the 330 Gbit/s, SAT-3/WASC (=South Atlantic 3/West Africa Submarine Cable) going west to Europe via the Cape of Good Hope and to the 440 Gbit/s SAFE (South Africa Far East) cable going east to Penang Malaysia and thus provide an alternate route for secure broadband transmissions through Europe and Asia for all of the African countries in which the Group is located.

TEAMS (=The East Africa Marine System) -- This 5,000km, 120 Gbit/s fibre optic marine cable (design capacity=1,280Gbit/s), funded by the Government of Kenya and Kenyan operators who together own 85%(which is split roughly Safaricom =32.5%, Telkom Kenya=23%, Government of Kenya=20%, Kenya Data Networks=10%, Wananchi Group=6% and BCS Group=1.2%) and UAE-based operator Etisalat, which owns 15%. It links Mombasa to the tiny Emirate of Fujairah in the UAE and went live on October 1st 2009. TEAMS is connected to the Kenya national fiber backbone network and other major backhaul providers, thus extending the gigabit submarine capacity to the rest of the East African countries: Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania through cross-border connectivity arrangements and in Fujairah, a major international cable hub linking Africa, Europe and Asia it can interchange with 15 other global cables including FLAG, Africa 1, SEA-ME-WE 3,4 and 5 and others

Other projects whose status is unclear include:

AFRICA-1 -- In mid-April 2016, MTN Group, PCCW Global, Saudi Telecom Company (STC), Telecom Egypt (TE) and Telkom South Africa signed a MoU for the construction of a 3 fibre-pair core, 12,000km (plus up to 5,000km branches) submarine cable system designed to connect Africa with the Middle East and South Central Asia and provide onward connectivity to Europe with connections planned in South Africa, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Tanzania, Kenya, Sudan, Yemen, UAE, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and India . (NB This cable was originally proposed to be ready for service by late 2017 but this RFS date is now being quoted as Q4/2018 and so far not much more has been heard about this proposal)

LIQUID SEA High capacity SA/Middle East/Europe -- This cable project was announced December 2015 by Liquid Telecom. (See below)

PEACE (=Pakistan East Africa Cable Express) -- In early January 2018, Huawei Global Marine Systems Ltd announced that working with Huawei Technologies it was about to start the submarine route survey for this initially 6,200km, 60 Tbit/s, 200G DWDM-based cable system connecting Pakistan (in Gwadar and Karachi), Djibouti, Somalia and Kenya which would eventually span 13,000km, reaching South Africa and Egypt.

DARE (=Djibouti Africa Regional Express) --  In early January 2018 it was announced that a contract had come into force with TE SubCom as supplier for this 5,400km, two fibre-pair(150ch x100Gbit/s per pair) submarine cable system which will connect Djibouti and Mombasa, Kenya, with branches to three major coastal cities in Somalia, respectively Mogadishu, Berbera, and Bosaso, providing an alternative high-capacity and low-latency route to the Horn of Africa and East Africa. The DARE consortium is composed of Djibouti Telecom, Africa Marine Express(Kenya), TeleYemen and four Somali operators namely: Somtel Network, Golis Telecom Group, Hormuud Telecom, and Telesom. An additional optional branch is available to Dar Es Salaam (Tanzania).