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AFRIK-IT  November 1998

AFRIK-IT November 1998

Subject:

Africa TWO?

From:

Nemo Semret <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

African Network of IT Experts and Professionals (ANITEP) List

Date:

Wed, 11 Nov 1998 11:31:56 -0500

Content-Type:

multipart/mixed

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (9 lines) , satelkom (73 lines)

A new African fiber-optic backbone, going from Senegal, through thirteen
countries, to South Africa, Mauritius and Malaysia... If this is
realized, that will go a long way to addressing the lack of
intra-regional connectivity. Does anyone have more info on this? Let's
hope it does not suffer the same fate as Africa ONE.

--
http://comet.columbia.edu/~nemo


    By Luke Baker    JOHANNESBURG, Nov 11 (Reuters) - Think of satellite telecommunications, internet commerce and a high-speed fibre-optic backbone and Africa doesn't spring to mind.    There are more telephones in downtown Tokyo than in the whole of sub-Saharan Africa, where just getting a dial-tone is sometimes an achievement.    But Jay Naidoo, South Africa's Minister for Posts, Telecommunications and Broadcasting, who is fond of quoting the daunting fact above, is unfazed. In fact, he's glad of the challenge.    "Cecil Rhodes wanted to build a link from Cape Town to Cairo in order to subjugate the continent," Naidoo told Reuters in an interview this week.    "Now we want to build an information super-highway from Cape to Cairo which will liberate the continent."    To that end, African telecoms ministers, officials from organisations like the World Bank and the U.N.'s International Telecommunications Union, and corporate executives have been meeting to lay plans for the continent's telecoms future.    In May, South Africa hosted the Africa Telecom conference at which more than 40 African ministers agreed a broad set of proposals aimed at expanding rural telephony, enhancing the regulatory framework and boosting foreign telecoms investment.    "Now we want to take that framework and develop it into a strategy, a strategy for investment," said Naidoo.     "Telecoms development is really about smart partnerships between the public and private sector, and finding ways to attract private sector invesment into the continent."    South Africa's experience could become a model.    Thirty percent of national utility Telkom was carefully sold, raising $1.3 billion while committing the partners -- SBC Communications <SBC.N> and Telekom Malaysia <TLMM.KL> -- to targets which could ensure them exclusivity until 2003.    A fast-expanding cellular market has been set up which will soon be opened to double the competition as two more licences are awarded next year. The winners will have to deliver state of the art access to all sectors of society, rural and urban.    At the same time a regulator has been established, acting independently of government and ensuring clear-cut procedures are followed for all telecoms licensing and operations.    "We've got to create an institutional mechanism on the continent which is a one-stop shop. Where people can come in and say: 'This is what's happening across Africa, these are the licensing procedures, these the regulatory procedures and these are the potential projects'," says Naidoo.    Longer term, South Africa's targets are ambitious.    It is spending 50 billion rand ($9 billion) over the next five years to lay three million new phone lines. While under apartheid only 150,000 new lines were ever installed in a year, last year half a million were put in the ground.    In the past only one in 100 black South Africans had access to a phone. By 2003, 75 percent of all households that want a phone will have one. Telecentres in rural areas already provide universal access -- to phones and the internet.    "In five years we will have connected every village, every school, clinic, police station and post office, community centre and library," says Naidoo enthusiastically.    Internet access is a policy priority, with the minister hoping to use the technology to deliver telemedicine and education to the most remote areas of the country. South Africa ranks 18th globally in terms of internet penetration.    A digital fibre-optic backbone will soon link South Africa with Senegal through 13 African countries and then flow East to Malaysia via Mauritius.    In 2003, the remainder of Telkom will be privatised, with 10 percent set aside for black empowerment, and 60 percent up for grabs. Powerful global players are already interested. Naidoo expects its value to have at least doubled by then.    "We can balance the economic imperatives of investors who are highly competitive and want a return on their investment with the broad development goal of government," says Naidoo.    "It has created a unique example that can be replicated in the ruthlessly competitive global economy." Wednesday, 11 November 1998 10:13:20

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