Zambia to link fibre to intercontinental cable

Zambia’s national fibre optic network will be linked within the next two years to the Cable Ship Nexus (CS Nexus) undersea cable that connects Africa to Europe and Asia, according to Zambian Minister of Transport and Communications Bates Namuyamba.

Unlike many countries in Africa, which have made substantial investments in telecommunications infrastructure, Zambia lacks a modern fibre optic backbone for national and regional interconnectivity, according to Namuyamba.

The Zambian Electricity Supply Corp. a government-run utility, operates and will expand the current fibre-optic infrastructure, he said. The link to CS Nexus will be complete in 2006, he said.

“In order to leapfrog the existing capacity and technology requirements for overhauling the existing telecommunications infrastructure in the region — thereby laying a solid foundation for delivering current and future services ranging from radio, television, Internet and data services — fibre-based technology provides comprehensive and reliable networks for the continent,” Namuyamba said.

The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) has often cited a lack of information and communications technology (ICTs) infrastructure development as the reason for the high cost of telephone and Internet services in Africa. UNECA is a United Nations Commission headquartered in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, that works to promote the use of ICT to improve Africa’s ailing economies.

By using existing infrastructure and connecting fibre-optic networks to undersea cables, African countries can reduce communications costs, Namuyamba said.

Europe and Asia are Africa’s main communication destinations, he noted.

Communication costs to those regions can be brought down by laying down fibre to connect to the undersea cable network, and then connecting the fibre to existing power lines in order to get bandwidth out throughout the country, Namuyamba said. Electricity power lines cover 80 per cent of Zambia, he added. Any country in Africa that wants fast ICT development should think about utilizing existing infrastructure such as power lines, he said.

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