Uganda Extends Fibre Cable to Rwanda Border

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Uganda Telecom has started work on a fiber-optic link from the western town of Mbarara in Uganda to the Rwanda border-crossing point at Katuna - essentially giving a major boost to the long-awaited regional fibre project, RNA has learnt.

When completed in November this year, a significant section of what has come to be known as the East African Backhaul System (EABS) will be in place, giving Uganda end-to-end fiber coverage, the telecommunications news outlet IDG News Service reported on Monday.

"We have started implementing the Mbarara-Katuna link and we should be done by November," Mr. Donald Nyakairu - Uganda Telecom spokesman is quoted as saying. He is also the chairman of EABS. The EABS, a terrestrial cable link, is a joint venture among telecom operators from Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya.

MTN Rwanda has already laid fiber from the capital Kigali to Katuna, with a second phase to the Burundi border set to be built. The EABS' goal is to support an increase in traffic and new broadband services and connect the landlocked countries of Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi to EASSY, bringing cheap access to millions people who would otherwise be left out.

MTN Uganda, the other partner in the EABS project, has fiber from Kampala to Uganda's eastern town of Bugiri not far from Malaba, the crossing point into Kenya.

Within Uganda, EABS will be hooked to a national fiber backbone, which the government is building with Chinese funding of up to US$110 million.

MTN Uganda and Uganda Telecom are obliged by their licenses to lay fiber. Microwave technology for smaller backbone links into the more rural areas feeding off the main fiber optic routes will also be set up. The Libyan government international telecoms investment arm Lap Green Networks owns 69% of Uganda Telecom as well as 80% of Rwandatel - Rwandan state operator.

Rwanda News Agency/Agence Rwandaise d'Information