8 October 2012

Tanzania: Dar es Salaam to Build Undersea Cable to Uganda

Dar es Salaam — Tanzania has entered into a contract with Uganda to build an alternative route for the undersea cable via Mutukula to overcome the inconveniences caused by businesses persistent internet cable breakdown.

The move comes after Uganda government invited an international firm for the construction of an alternative internet cable in the country to end the ongoing connectivity blues in the landlocked country.

Mr. Nicodemus Mnungu the Tanzania Telecommunication Company Limited (TTCL), Commercial Executive, said the alternative broadband backbone will enable Uganda widen the internet transmission through and ensure internet reliability.

"Uganda is connected to Kenya cables but it also wants to have an alternative route in case of inconveniences or breakdown," Mnungu said.

Mnungu added that Uganda would be leasing the circuits to transfer their internet contents from Dar es Salaam to Mtukula border and into Uganda to boost the connectivity. The tariffs for the connectivity will depend on connection and on how much bandwidth Uganda would be using through the circuit.

"So far TTCL is also negotiating with Burundi, Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique to be connected with TTCL Broadband which is the custodian of National Information and Communication Technology Back Bone (NICTBB) that would in turn get the countries connected to world," he said.

The government said the countries were still in dialogue with TTCL and by next year if the talks go on well the connectivity procedures will start immediately.

The Director for Technical Services at National Information Technology Authority Uganda (NITA-U) Mr. Peter Kahiigi, said his government will embark on the project starting in November this year.

Kahiigi stressed every time the fibre cables are damaged in Kenya they get affected, the Mutukula- Tanzania route will ensure that they have an alternative route to tackle this challenge. The alternative route will be a welcome move by the players in the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector that have for long suffered internet breakdown affecting their businesses.

Internet cafes and telecommunication companies are mostly affected when there is a disruption in internet connectivity.

ICT experts say middle-class professionals can today check their e-mails over wireless internet or portable modems in smart cafés across the country for a few dollars a month, Ugandans can access the internet on mobile phones costing less than $100 (TSh8,700).

Kahigi noted the move will benefit internet users and act as a safeguard against dependence on single cable as well as riding internet speed, access and reliability.

By 2010, the number of internet users in Uganda had risen to four million just over 10% of the population, according to the Uganda Communication commission.

The Uganda's National Information Technology Authority, construction of the alternative cable through Tanzania will be funded by the government and various supporters.

According to the global broadband targets, internet user penetration should clock the 60% mark worldwide by 2015, with at least 50% in developing countries and 15% for least developed countries.

Tanzania's NICTBB has reached all border points of the country and TTCL has already illustrated its capability by getting the Tsh10.7bn ($6.7m) contracts to supply 1.244 gigabytes of internet bandwidth to Rwanda for years.

Minister for Communications, Science and Technology, Prof Makame Mbalawa, said TTCL winning is a testimony to the neighboring countries and to the world at large that the decision by Tanzania government to massively invest in the Tsh314bn ($200m) NICTBB aimed at making Tanzania as a hub for ICT.

"It could be wise for the Neighboring countries to use the opportunity ahead of them because being connected with Tanzania's bandwidth will greatly enhance the performance of their countries hence increase efficiency indifferent sectors of the economy," Mbalawa said.

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