Africa calls for harmonised policies on submarine cables
Officials in charge of ICT from all over Africa have called for harmonised guidelines on how to access submarine cables that are anchored in various countries.
They made the remarks Monday at the opening of a workshop held in Kigali.
The guidelines were developed by several organisations in conjunction with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the European Union.
The forum organised by ITU, African Union Commission and the Economic Community for West African States (ECOWAS), brings together delegates from over 35 African countries and beyond.
The meeting will reflect on issues regarding access to landing stations and international capacity in real time and resolve bottlenecks and international capacity.
Speaking to The New Times yesterday, Andrew Rugege, the Director of ITU regional office for Africa, said that the harmonised policies would ensure African countries have equal access to submarine cables at a reasonable cost.
“In Africa, we are connected to a number of submarine cables, it would be very vital for ITU member countries to have harmonised policies towards access to sub-marine cables in terms of price fixing, regulatory policies and internet bandwidth redundancy, “he said.
The undersea cables connected to African countries include the East Africa Submarine Cable System (EASSy), The East African Marine Systems (TEAMS), SEACOM, Lower Indian Ocean Network (LION) and the West African Cable System (WACS) among others.
Rugege called upon operators, governments and the private sector to have a common understanding on how to access submarine cable interconnection.
He urged internet service providers and telecoms to make it an obligation of backing up each other in case one ISP is affected in an event of the submarine cable outage.
According to Dr. Raphael Koffi, Head of ICT division at ECOWAS, bandwidth is the engine of the global economy.
Affordable international bandwidth is an essential component for any African country to remain competitive in a changing world.
“Harmonised guidelines will help African nations most especially the regulators and operators to access affordable and quality international internet connection,” Koffi noted.
According to ITU, Africa has one of the fastest annualised growth rates in total international bandwidth.
Sub-Saharan Africa accounts for just 0.2 percent of total global international bandwidth, a share that has remained stable since 2004.
Patrick Nyirishema, the of head of ICT at Rwanda Development Board (RDB), said harmonisation of guidelines to access submarine cable connectivity would result into a wide range of benefits.
“Having the same policies promises greater international internet bandwidth, faster internet access, more reliable connectivity and a reduction in prices for communication services,” he said.
Rwanda is connected to TEAMS, SEACOM and EASSy cables which land on the ports of Mombasa, and Dar es Salaam respectively.
Contact email: frank.kanyesigye[at]newtimes.co.rw