The small gap in the fibre network between South Africa and Mozambique has now been closed. It will now be interesting to see whether Telkom SA offers rates that are sufficiently cheap to be competitive with satellite, something it has not offered Lesotho and Namibia’s incumbent telcos.

At the opening on Friday Mozambique Minister of Transport and Communications, Antonio Mungwambe, said Mozamique regards telecommunications as a key factor in development and in the fight against poverty, which is why the government has priorised interconnecting the whole country through broad band infrastructure, declared the He was speaking at the border town of Ressano Garcia, at the inauguration of a fibre-optic communications.

Mungwambe said that the national telecommunications programme, managed by the public telecoms company, TDM, was now in its second phase. By the time it was concluded, in late 2007 the country would have "modern technological platforms", that would "expand the capacity and improve the quality of fixed and mobile phone communications between the main urban centres in the south, centre and north of the country".

This broadband infrastructure would also carry radio and television signals across the entire country, improve communications with neighbouring countries and facilitate access to the new Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs).

The Chairman of the TDM Board of Directors, Joaquim de Carvalho, said that the fibre-optic link meant that communications between Mozambique and South Africa will now be quicker and more reliable, regardless of climatic conditions. "Mozambique and South Africa now have a broad band telecommunications infrastructure that not only allows direct access between the two countries, but also assists in the regional integration of the countries of SADC (Southern African Development Community)", he said.

The new link, he said, was part of TDM's overall investment strategy, which is centred on completing the backbone of the National Transmission Network by extending fibre-optic connections to all provincial capitals.

The new connection will existing satellite connections if competitive rates are offered by Telkom SA. Installing it cost around US$1.2 million. The fibre-optic link is taking a lift from the gas pipeline between the gas treatment plant at Timane in the southern province of Inhambane and the South African town of Secunda. That pipeline has a branch carrying gas to Matola, the city that is contiguous with Maputo.

"Naturally it made good sense to take advantage of the building of the pipeline to extend the fibre optic cable from Maputo to the border with South Africa, and that is what happened", said Carvalho. "This undertaking", he added, "is an example of a successful partnership, where synergies were used to rationalise resources".

Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique