5th cable to double internet capacity in Kenya and beyond


When a planned 4th fibreoptic cable will connect Kenya, and the hinterland countries, with the rest of the world, capacity will nearly double from the present 8.5 terabyte per second to over 15 terabyte a second, allowing for greater penetration of internet usage in Kenya and countries beyond like Uganda and Rwanda.

Present cable operators like EASSy, TEAMS and Seacom are reportedly concerned about the impact of another cable landing at the Kenya coast, but in view of broken promises of significantly lower cost for end users the market seemingly cannot wait for another option to become available. At one stage the cable operators and their contracted ISP’s had signaled cost of internet connections to fall by 90 percent, a distant dream still as internet service providers in Kenya and Uganda continue to milk the market for all it is worth, while at the same time crying about significant unused capacities, which cannot however be sold at the often exorbitant prices charged for high volume endusers.

e-Commerce, while today supported by more secure technologies vis a vis the use of credit and debit cards, has therefore grown only slowly in the region and in particular tourism marketing, with streaming videos from webcams located at prime sites in national parks and scenic spots, have not taken root as the cost for many companies remain too high, in the process having to let go of prime opportunities to showcase East Africa’s tourism attractions to not just the wider world but to the domestic tourism market too.

Airline transactions and bookings for hotels, resorts car hire and transport services through e-Commerce are therefore way below global average, though experts believe that internet usage and traffic across East Africa could quadruple over the next 4 years, subject of course to lower tariffs which makes internet access affordable for wider sections of business and domestic users.

An added benefit for users is the redundancy factor, as in the past as many as two of the cables were cut at the same time by careless ship captains dropping anchor on them. The new company will most likely therefore be asked by the Kenya government to seek an alternative landing site to allow for options and fallback plans should anything significant happen to the other landing site where the current cables reach land. In a related development it was also learned that legislation and regulations are in the making to have every internet user in Kenya be given a unique tag for identification purposes as a measure to curb economic cyber crime and combat terrorism. Watch this space.