Sameer Africa wants the private sector to be involved in speeding up the Sh15 billion Eastern Africa fibre optic cable project (EASSy). Sameer Africa chairman, Naushad Merali, on Wednesday said Government bureaucracy had stalled the undersea cable project. "If it was the private sector driving the project, it would move fast," said Naushad whose company, Kenya Data Network (KDN), is involved in the project.

However, Information and Communication Permanent Secretary Bitange Ndemo said his ministry had adopted an open door policy, and even invited KDN "but the company wants to lay the cable alone, which we cannot accept." In a press interview on Wednesday, Merali feared that lack of consultation among stakeholders could even lead to a multiplicity of undersea cables being laid on the Eastern coast of Africa, which he said would not be economical. Last week, Ndemo accused KDN of planning to lay a cable from Mauritius to Mombasa.

This, Bitange said, would have earned KDN a five year monopoly from the Communications Commission of Kenya to enable it recoup expenses. The slow implementation of EASSy, that was mooted in 2003 to reduce the cost of telecommunication, had resulted in the Government declaring it would lay a cable linking Mombasa to Djibouti at a cost of Sh4.3 billion.

Merali was answering questions from the Press after the launch of a Sh30 million Celtel Kenya staff training programme at the Norfolk hotel.

The East African Standard