Alcatel wins Eassy contract

By Damaria Senne, ITWeb senior journalist
Johannesburg, 12 Jul 2006
Alcatel has been awarded the tender to build the cable for Eastern Africa Submarine Cable System (Eassy), a source at the Nepad e-Africa Commission confirms.

The project as a whole is valued at $300 million, but the value of the contract has not been disclosed, the source says.

Media reports indicate the Nepad e-Africa Commission has begun negotiations with Alcatel regarding the terms of the project.

It is also indicated that Burundi, Tanzania, Kenya and Sudan have already signed the construction and maintenance agreement, which ensures the rights and obligations of stakeholders in the project are protected.

Henry Chasia, chairman of the Nepad e-Africa Commission, said in June that construction would begin in the fourth quarter of 2006 if the African governments involved in the projects ratified the regulatory framework as scheduled.

Ministers from the 15 African counties involved in the project signed a declaration approving the regulatory and policy framework in June. They also undertook to gain approval for the framework in their individual countries.

Local implications

Paris Mashile, chairman of the Independent Communications Authority of SA (ICASA), met with regulators of countries involved with Eassy.

He confirms the Eassy project is on track to become commercially available by 2008. Construction will begin within the next month, he says.

Mashile says ICASA expects major telecoms companies to have open access to co-own the South African segment of it, resulting in increased competition in the sector.

"Stimulating competition is the best form of regulation," he says.

John Sihra, the project`s co-ordinator, previously stated Eassy would help cut telecoms costs in Africa by at least 50%.

Alcatel was unavailable to comment by the time of publication.

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