Wednesday, August 17, 2022

WACS to improve connectivity, lower costs in Africa

West Africa Cable System (WACS), an undersea cable system project that is being undertaken by Botswana and other African countries along the western coast of the African coast, will lower the costs of telecommunication in the continent.

The undersea cable system will provide high speed and reliable connectivity in the 15 African countries that are part of WACS ÔÇô pushing them to the level of the developed countries of the north.

“The economies of today are largely driven by internet and other ICT connections, which are enablers of faster global connectivity,” the spokesperson of the Ministry for Transport and Communication, Amangwe Madisakwana said.

This week, Botswana Minister for Transport and Communications was in Namibia to welcome the arrival of the undersea cable that is expected to revolutionaries the telecommunication industry.
The development will lead to faster connectivity and the fall in tariff rates that telecommunication companies are charging their subscribers.

He said through this project, Botswana is acquiring high-speed, affordable and reliable communication link to the outside world, which is, unlike before, where it had to rely on expensive and low-capacity satellite systems and equally expensive SAT-3 system.

Madisakwana said currently the Ministry of Trade and Industry and other stakeholders are working hard but the hurdle has been poor international connectivity, which has led to Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) being setup in other neighboring countries, bypassing Botswana. “Through this project trade in services for all the sectors of the economy will become a reality because of the ideal connections that the country will be getting,” he said. “Foreign Direct Investment will also be much easier to attract because business people want high-speed, affordable and reliable communications service that Botswana would now have.”

The cable system runs alongside the west coast of Africa from South- Africa (Cape Town) to Portugal and United Kingdom with intermediate landings along the west coast of Africa. Madisakwana said once the project is implemented it will connect Botswana via Namibia with Europe and the rest of the world in the west. The WACS project compliments another undersea cable system known as East Africa Submarine System, (EASSY), which will connect Botswana with Asia and the East.

Last week, the Minister of Transport and Communications, Frank Ramsden, went to Namibia to witness shore-landing of the actual cable, at the Front Beach, in Swakopmund.

WACS is being constructed at a cost of U$600 million, Botswana having invested a total of U$75 million, which has been co-invested with Namibia on 50/50 basis. As such, the Government of Botswana and that of Namibia contributed P37.5 million each towards the project.

Madisakwana said WACS will provide a cost effective, high-speed and reliable system alternative to satellite connection which Botswana currently relies on. “The state-of-the-art submarine fibre system is expected to allow for low cost communications services, which will result in increased Internet penetration in Botswana,” he said. The bandwidth obtained from the WACS project will be enough to allow for high-speed or broadband services in the country.

Madisakwana said the project is expected to be completed in January, 2012 and Batswana should expect to enjoy the fruits provided by the WACS project from then.

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