BOTSWANA’S PRESIDENT MOGAE PLEADS WITH NAMIBIA TO JOIN WAFS FIBRE PROJECT TO GET FRIENDLY ACCESS TO SEA

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In an unusual move last week, Botswana President Festus Mogae extended an invitation to his Namibian counterpart Hifikepunye Pohamba to participate in the WAFS undersea fibre project. Perhaps Namibia needs encouragement as although it invested in the SAT3 fibre, it failed to provide enough investment for a landing station. As a result, it now pays either for satellite transit or expensive transit fees via South Africa.

Mogae, who is in the country on a state visit announced that Botswana is seeking to expand its connectivity by participating in several initiatives including the West African Festoon Systems (WAFS). (However as a landlocked country, Botswana will need a friendly seaboard country like Namibia if it is not to be held to ransom on rates as it currently is by South Africa’s Telkom.)

The WAFS project aims to connects countries along the western coast of Africa from Nigeria to Namibia.

Participation of both Namibia and Angola is very critical as this project qualifies a country for two landing points," Mogae told Pohamba.

He added that Botswana was currently negotiating with Angola to participate in the project whose closing date for acceptance of new members is next month.

For a coastal country like Namibia, the required minimum investment is US$10 million, Mogae revealed.

The country has also completed detailed feasibility studies for the East African Cable System (EASSy) whilst the one for the West African Festoon System (WAFS) is in progress.

In the meantime, Botswana continues to seek transit routes through neighbouring countries to link the country to the sea, hence the plea to Namibia.

Botswana has already installed fibre-optic rings to boost the reliability of telecommunications links along the eastern part of the country and plans are at an advanced stage for the provision of the trans-Kalahari fibre optic transmission system to replace the existing obsolete microwave systems linking Jwaneng-Ghanzi-Maun-Orapa and Sebina-Nata-Kasane. The project will also include spurs from the main trans-Kalahari ring to the borders of Zambia and Namibia.

New Era