Kenya: TEAMS Alarmed By Arrival of Seacom

Internet

With the arrival of the private undersea cable Seacom on the East African coast, the Kenyan government has moved to reassure stakeholders that The East Africa Marine Systems Cable (TEAMS) is still on course.

After months of a lull and seemingly no activity in the laying of the government fronted cable, news that the privately owned SEACOM cable had landed at the coastal town of Mombasa appear to have sent jitters in government circles prompting the reassurance.

Government last Tuesday issued an assurance that installation TEAMS fibre-optic cable by June was still on course. The Permanent Secretary Ministry of Information and Communications Dr. Bitange Ndemo said the project's technical and financial aspects were still intact. He however expressed fears the cable laying costs could shoot up with the increasing piracy threat along the coast.

Ndemo spoke during a signing ceremony with shareholders and of a loan agreement in Nairobi. He said the Kenyan government had already submitted their funds for the cable just as Kenyan based mobile phone service provider Safaricom which holds a 20 percent stake in the cable also submitted their funds.

Most other firms that had applied for a stake in the project are yet to honour their financing obligations and the government called upon them to move with speed. "The government has already paid Shs1.6 billion for its portion of shares. All shareholders will contribute a total of Shs10.4 billion," Ndemo said.

Ndemo said the TEAMS cable was expected on the East African coast by mid June given that the laying process will begin March 24. The public-private partnership is 20 percent owned by the government of Kenya, Safaricom and Telkom Kenya take a 20 percent stake each, while Kenya Data Networks and Econet Wireless Kenya own 10 percent each.

Ndemo sought to allay fears that three cables landing in the country would provide more capacity than the country could handle."We have capacity for up to 10 cables because our intention is to make this country a regional communication hub," he said.

Meanwhile the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Finance Joseph Kinyua has said the Attorney General has given all the necessary approval for the project. "All the sub-systems have been fully manufactured and assembled. In effect, TEAMS is now a fully fledged company," Kinyua said.

(Source Africa Business Week)