Displaying items by tag: East Africa

PEACE submarine cable to connect South Asia with East Africa

Written on Monday, 13 November 2017 11:27

Huawei Marine announced it has commenced work on Desk Study and Marine Survey works in conjunction with key investor Tropic Science Co., Ltd. (Tropical Science) to construct the Pakistan East Africa Cable Express (PEACE) submarine cable, which connects South Asia with East Africa. With initial work underway, the project is targeted for completion in Q4, 2019.

The project has a total length of 13,000 km, and will connect South Asia (Pakistan) and East Africa (Djibouti) and Kenya, with a northern expansion to Egypt and further southern expansion from Kenya to South Africa.

The project will facilitate connectivity from China to Pakistan via existing terrestrial cable networks and create the shortest route from China to Europe via Africa. This network topology substantially reduces existing network lengths by up to 50 percent and when completed, will provide a cost-effective, diverse route for the escalating demand for capacity between Asia, Africa and Europe.

Tropical Science believes Africa’s market capacity is more attractive than many other regions as its networks are developing rapidly and the number of internet users in Africa is also growing at an unprecedented rate. The construction of this international information highway will become an important enabler of East Africa’s telecommunications as well as its social and economic development in future.

“We are pleased to commence work on this important project to ensure a timely delivery programme,” said Mao Shengjiang, COO of Huawei Marine. “Our customer-centric focus and commitment to quality and on-time delivery, is a hallmark of our company values. I would like to thank Tropical Science and our other partners for their trust in Huawei Marine.”

In October, at the 3rd Asia Pacific Submarine Networks Forum, Tropic Science, China-ASEAN Information Harbor, China Construction Bank and Huawei Marine signed and MOU for the construction of the PEACE submarine cable project.

Published in Infrastructure

Africa needs regulatory stability for operators to grow

Written on Sunday, 01 October 2017 10:36

The main challenge facing telecom operators in Africa is competition and regulatory stability, according to Mr. Abdellatif Bouziani, CEO of telecom provider Smart East Africa Group serving Tanzania, Uganda and Burundi. Speaking to Telecom Review, Mr. Bouziani said governments in Africa have sold too many operating licenses which have forced prices down, but operating costs remain the same.

Competition is high in the African telecom market, said Mr. Bouziani. With governments selling up to 6-7 telecom operating licenses, operators are forced to lower their prices, but operating costs remain the same, so they must cut spending to survive. But by reducing spending, operators aren’t able to experience growth. When there’s less cash going into countries, big players suffer, and smaller players suffer even more, he said.

Governments in Africa are the big winners in the equation, Mr. Bouziani explained, because they generate revenue from selling the licenses and collecting taxes and fines from the operators. But that puts pressure on emerging players like Smart East Africa which began operating four years ago. Big operators are suffering because they have big costs, and smaller operators are suffering because they cannot grow.

“We have to do business differently now,” Mr. Bouziani told Telecom Review. “We cannot do it the same way we did 5-10 years ago.” Voice is no longer primary, he explained, therefore the industry needs to get closer to the OTT (over-the-top) players to benefit more from them utilizing operators’ networks. Operators need to be a part of the change rather than taking a back seat and watching it happen, he said.

Smart East Africa launched in Tanzania, Uganda and Burundi in 2014 under Industrial Promotion Services (IPS) Kenya, which in turn is part of the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED). The operator was launched in the three markets to drive innovation in the market and focus more on the youth segment, Mr. Bouziani said.

AKFED is the sole for-profit agency of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) and works in partnership with international organizations and governments to stimulate the private sectors of developing economies, with the aim of generating capital for investment into long-lasting and sustainable development initiatives.

The organization is essentially a development and investment agency, Mr. Bouziani explained. AKDN holds a 51 percent stake in Smart East Africa while Timeturns, the previous owner of Smart, owns a 49 percent stake.

To stand out in the market, the company implemented an “innovation-friendly” environment to foster knowledge and new ideas. Mr. Bouziani said: “We have to take into account how much telecoms has changed with the introduction of OTT, increasing data usage and value added services. We must ask ourselves: how can we play around with all these things to come up with a business model that allows us to survive in this non-conventional industry?”

In 2014, Smart announced plans to invest US$300 million over the course of five years to expand its telecoms networks and services. The company faces stiff competition, with 17 rival operators combined across Tanzania, Uganda and Burundi. The company offers free roaming across the three countries.

Published in Interviews

Huawei announced recently that the railway operational communications network it built for Kenya's Mombasa-Nairobi rail project was put into commercial use. Huawei's Digital Railway Solution enables multiple communications tasks, including mission-critical train dispatch, emergency communications, section maintenance communications, secure transmission, and ensures stable power supply along the entire line.

The solution will meet customer requirements for safe, stable, and efficient railway operations and ensure highly reliable communications for the railway.

As the first new line that has been constructed in Kenya for the past century, the Mombasa-Nairobi railway runs across Kenya's territory from the southeast to the northwest, starting from Mombasa, the biggest port along the east coastline of Africa, to Nairobi, Kenya's capital and the largest city in East Africa.

The line has a pivotal role in East Africa's railway network and has paved the way for standard-gauge rail links in the area. The line is part of a long-term plan to connect a vast network of rails from Kenya, through Uganda and Burundi, and up to South Sudan. This railway artery in East Africa will provide convenient transportation and promote regional collaboration, integration, economic growth, and social development.

The high speeds and short departure intervals of modern railway require secure, stable, and reliable train operations. Huawei's Digital Railway Solution provides the Mombasa-Nairobi Railway with a full suite of core systems such as a highly-reliable, industry-leading railway operational communications system, a large-bandwidth unified transmission system which adopts soft and hard pipes to protect train control and other mission-critical services, a modular and highly efficient power supply system, and an environment monitoring system which enables great scalability and intelligent management. The core systems ensure safe train operations.

Huawei's next-generation GSM-R solution has been deployed to build the train-to-ground communications network. With end-to-end redundancy backup and 99.999% availability, the network guarantees stable transmission of train control signals. Based on mature hardware platforms, the next-generation BTS3900 GSM-R base stations support smooth migration to LTE-R.

The transmission network uses Huawei's cutting-edge Hybrid MSTP transmission devices that support SDH/IP dual planes. The SDH hard pipes and IP soft pipes comprehensively bear multiple services without compromising the reliability of mission-critical service transmission.

In addition, Huawei's premium communication power supply and Uninterruptible Power System (UPS) products are installed to meet diversified customer requirements on backup power, ensuring high-quality power supplies for communications systems, data centers, security systems, and other critical loads.

The safe and efficient operations of the Mombasa-Nairobi Railway will provide significant support for Kenya's passenger and freight transportation, and thus the economic growth. At the same time, the Railway will bring East African economies closer to each other.

To date, Huawei's Digital Railway Solution has been deployed to serve more than 100,000 kilometers of railway worldwide. Major digital railway projects include those in Germany and South Africa, as well as high-speed rail lines in China and Spain. With innovative solutions and global delivery capabilities, Huawei is committed to building a better connected railway along with partners and customers in the rail sector across the globe.

Published in Infrastructure