Telkom Kenya will invest in a third international submarine cable link as it attempts to cement its presence in the regional data market.
Last week, France Telecom (Orange) signed an agreement committing some of its key African operations — including Telkom Kenya — to a new undersea project that it hopes will allow it to offer cheap internet connectivity to the market.
“For Kenya, LION2 is an important project that will strengthen its connectivity to international networks and cover its capacity requirements for years to come,” France Telecom said in a statement last week.
The LION2 cable is expected to cost Sh6 billion, out of which France Telecom will foot Sh3.3 billion, leaving the remainder to Telkom Kenya and its other subsidiaries Mauritius Telecom and Orange Madagascar, alongside the company’s carrier companies Emtel Ltd, Société Réunionnaise du Radiotéléphone and STOI Internet.
Telkom Kenya has already made significant investments in the East African Marine System (TEAMs) as well as the East African Submarine System (EASSy), and commands an extensive inland fibre network of its own.
The company also runs the government-led National Fibre Optic Backbone Initiative (NOFBI), handing the company the most comprehensive fibre offering in the land.
Fibre connectivity allows operators to offer cheaper internet services to consumers than if they use the alternative, satellite.
The LION2 agreement comes less than a year after the inauguration of the LION submarine cable (Lower Indian Ocean Network) linking Madagascar to the rest of the world via Réunion Island and Mauritius.
With the latest agreement, France Telecom enters the second phase of its Indian Ocean development plan, pursuing its strategy for the regional expansion of broadband internet.
The 3,000 km-long LION2 cable will extend the LION cable to Kenya via the island of Mayotte.
“The cable will provide Mayotte, for the first time, with access to a broadband internet network benefiting from a transmission capacity and service quality equivalent to those available in Europe,” said France Telecom.
With the LION and LION2 cables, three telecommunication highways will be available to route voice and data telecommunications via La Réunion and Mauritius.
Two new landing stations will be built, one in Kaweni for Mayotte and the other at Nyali near Mombasa for Kenya.
The second of these is doubled up with existing stations and will be used to redirect traffic if needed.
The new cable will also provide an alternate route for secure broadband transmissions through Europe and Asia for all African countries in which the Group is located.
Through the development of its submarine networks, France Telecom is hoping to win the race to wire the continent, which is tipped to be a key growth area for data products.
“The more fibre we can command, the better for the business as it places us in a position to extend the company’s reach around the country,” said Mickael Ghossein, Telkom Kenya CEO.