South Africa’s DoC gives a clear maybe for Seacom


On the landing of international fibres, the South African Government’s indecision is final. SEACOM may be allowed to land in South Africa according to the latest feedback from the DoC seemed to be the best read as MyBroadband played 20 questions with DoC’s Rosey Sekese. Sceptics might ask: how is it the Government expects to encourage external investment with this cryptic game of questions and answers?

Deputy Director General for ICT Infrastructure Development at the Department of Communications (DoC), Rosey Sekese, said that cables wanting to land in South Africa need to be majority African owned.

Speaking at the ITWeb Broadband & Wireless conference in Midrand, Sekese made it clear that majority local ownership is not what is needed, but rather majority African ownership with a strong focus on developing the continent as a whole.

When asked directly whether SEACOM will be allowed to land in South Africa, Sekese said that this issue is currently under discussion and as long as the undersea cable system abides by the Nepad Protocols governing these developments it will be given the green light. Last week Neotel’s Head of Strategy, Angus Hay, said that he is confident that SEACOM will be allowed to land in South Africa as it meets all the legal requirements.

Hay further said that SEACOM falls in line with the spirit of development put forward by the DoC and Communications Minister Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri, and since it is an African driven project he believes that landing rights will not be an issue.

There are also rumors that Neotel has already started building physical infrastructure to connect the SEACOM landing point to their fiber backbone, which is a healthy sign that the company is not overly concerned about SEACOM landing in South Africa. According to Neotel, statements regarding this issue will ‘come out soon’.

While the feeling towards SEACOM’s landing seems to be positive, the DoC seems less optimistic about EASSy. When asked whether EASSy, which is 90% African owned and will function on open access principles, will be allowed to land in South Africa the answer was cryptic at best.

Sekese said that while the shareholding is majority African, the system will have to abide by the Nepad protocols governing these developments to be allowed to land in South Africa. Some commentators feel that the DoC and Nepad are particularly ‘sensitive’ regarding the EASSy project as they were unable to hijack the system and make it part of the Nepad ICT Broadband Infrastructure Network.