South Sudan aims to replace VSAT internet with fibre links


South Sudan plans to replace expensive satellite internet with connectivity to existing fibre optic cables in the region. All the country's ISPs currently use VSAT satellite, which is expensive for the consumer. The government has been paying EUR 20,000 every month for access but it is now looking to sub-sea cables to bring down costs.

The expenditure for the new internet connections would be met with a loan from China. VSAT provides limited bandwidth, said Juma Stephen Lugga, Undersecretary at the Ministry of Telecommunications and Postal Services.

There are three routes to connect landlocked South Sudan to the submarine cables along the coast of the Indian Ocean. The first would lead from Juba, the capital city, to Kenya through Lokichoggio to Mombasa. The second will lead from Juba across the border at Nimule to Uganda, where it would then be connected to Tanzania. The third one would have South Sudan connect another cable from Juba to Gambella in Ethiopia and finally to Djibouti.

At the start, South Sudan will use microwave, said Lugga, which could cost an estimated USD 10 million. Fibre optic installation costs could be higher than that. However, the young country shut down oil production in January because of a transit fee dispute with Sudan. At the time, oil accounted for 98 per cent of its budgetary obligations.