Approaching Internet explosion to redefine Africa’s place

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A new wave of revolution is starting to reshape Africa. Oddly, it is not a political revolution but an Internet revolution set to transform the face of communication on the continent.

The Major players in the sub-Saharan African block groupings such as South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya are leading the regions to connect Africa to Europe and other parts of the world.

The arrival of Seacom cable in South Africa next month will begin to shape how Southern Africans access the internet. Apart from the promise of cheaper internet access, the submarine fibre optic cable will for the first time connect Southern Africa to the rest of the world, routing via Kenya.

Like in Europe, the standard of the new cables will see internet users in Africa able to access the Internet from their mobile phones and make calls from their computers.

“The others are the explosion of Internet Service Providers thanks to the upgrading of all existing VANS licences to network provider licences, the explosion of access at SMEs as they upgrade to broadband and wireless networks, and Internet access on cell phones,” says Authur Goldstuck, managing director of World Wide Worx of South Africa.

A US$600million undersea cable structured by the West African Cable System (WACS) will be the biggest internet explosion on the continent when it goes live in 2011, linking Southern and Western Africa to Europe. It will stretch to London and Portugal via Nigeria, Ghana, Togo, Ivory Coast, Cape-Verde and Canary Islands in West Africa, Namibia, DRC and Angola, Cameroon, in South and Central Africa.

This will boost telecommunications competition and allow consumers to bargain for better, cheaper options. The Markets in these countries and its neighbours will also grow and more capital will be accrued in the telecommunications industry. “A compelling opportunity exists to lower the restrictive cost of international telecommunications and significantly expand Internet access via submarine cable, which will lead to greater efficiency and more competitive business,” said an Expert with MainOne Cable Company based in Nigeria.

Internet service providers in each country will increase rapidly and access wouldn’t be much of a problem. The initiative also means that companies or institutions in Africa could buy their own bandwidths to have international access and operate on their own without depending on any operator.

Brian Herlihy, chief executive of Seacom said:”The more players there are in the communications market the greater benefit the consumer will have as prices will be driven down as a result of the increased availability of bandwidth.”

Also the East African Submarine Cable System which will connect to the rest of the world via South Africa is targeting the second quarter of 2010 to begin operations, and the East Africa Marine System (TEAMS) will connect Kenya to the United Arab Emirates.

“At least there are things that give one joy about Africa, if telecommunications can be cheap and other infrastructure, like housing and electricity gradually follow then we won’t have much to worry about again in Africa,” said Jide Zikrudeen, an IT guru and a former student of the Coventry University in the UK.

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