The live activation ceremony of the much-vaunted West African Cable System (WACS) took place yesterday at the resort town of Swakopmund, signalling the commercialization of the U$650 million cable. Amidst pomp and ceremony, President Hifikepunye Pohamba and his guest, visiting Botswana President Seretse Khama Ian Khama, and Joel Kaapanda the Minister of Information and Communication Technology (MICT) and his Botswana counterpart, Frank Ramsden, attended the high-profile event.
The governments of the two countries are a part of the consortium of 15 nations on the continent and a conglomerate of international investors who invested in the WACS project.
Namibia and Botswana contributed around US$75 million to bring the cable to the shores of Namibia through Swakopmund, from where Botswana's capacity will be routed through MTC and Telecom Namibia's backbone to Gaborone.
The cable consists of four fibre pairs and is 14 000 km in length, linking Yzerfontein in the Western Cape of South Africa to London in the United Kingdom. It has 15 terminal stations along the western coast of Africa.
The total cost of the cable system is US$650 million.
Addressing the momentous gathering, President Pohamba described the landing as a historic event, stressing the importance of joint cooperation between states and stakeholders to ensure WACS' hi-tech benefits are fully exploited.
"Affordable telecommunications must be enjoyed in all thirteen regions in Namibia and stakeholders, Telecom and MTC, must ensure that the WACS cable is fully utilized," he said.
He added that such infrastructure brings affordable information technology services to the citizens of both countries and also opens opportunities for further growth.
"We should keep in mind that the global economy has irreversibly transformed. This competition has become increasingly rigid in such a way that training of experts and employees must be conducted effectively so that we compete with our counterparts in other countries," Pohamba said.
Pohamba said the WACS landing station reinforces the two countries' on-going work to improve and make available reliable information technology services to public institutions, business, schools and other institutions.
Pohamba further said that it remains equally important to ensure that the availability of information communication services are extended to areas where the majority of people live.
"Children in rural areas like their counterparts in urban areas need to have access to ITC services as a way of facilitating learning and providing general information to enhance learning and awareness of other countries," he said.
The President of Botswana Lt. General Seretse Khama Ian Khama said the WACS landing station solidifies the two countries' relationship that continues to be nurtured through such joint ventures.
Khama expressed his confidence that WACS will promote communication between the various stakeholders for socio-economic development. He also urged the stakeholders to continue to explore ways in which WACS can be fully utilized.