Piracy delays East African marine telecoms project

Piracy off Somalia will cause a month-long delay in the launch of SEACOM, one of the submarine cable projects that will provide east Africa’s first cheap broadband telecoms link, SEACOM said earlier today.
 Pirate gangs marauding in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean have seized 31 vessels in 143 attacks this year alone and driven up insurance costs for the strategic shipping lanes, Reuters adds.
“The increase in pirate activity during April and May, both in terms of intensity and geographical coverage, necessitated a change in SEACOM’s cable installation plans which resulted in a delay in the ready for service date from June 27 to July 23,” a statement by the company said.
“The planned route required the ship to transit an area of increased pirate activity where other ships had been attacked or seized.”
SEACOM and another undersea cable project known as TEAMS were scheduled to start operating in the second half of the year.
The private SEACOM project will link the eastern Africa coast to India and Europe while the TEAMS line, partly held by the Kenyan government, will run between Mombasa and Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates.
Investors in the 15,000 km cable include an arm of the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development, Venfin Ltd, and Herakles Telecom LLC, each with stakes ranging between 23.75% and 26.25%. Shanduka Group and Convergence Partners each have a 12.5% shareholding.
SEACOM’s fibre-optic cable has capacity of 1.28 terabytes per second, which will enable high definition television and support surging Internet demand in eastern Africa that is currently reliant on satellite.
“Due to sensitivities around piracy issues, their impact on the project timeline was only fully established recently,” said Brian Herlihy, SEACOM’s chief executive.
SEACOM will connect South Africa, Mozambique, Madagascar, Tanzania, Kenya and Ethiopia
Kenya’s government said in April that foreign navies trying to deter piracy attacks off Somalia had agreed to protect the vessel laying down its TEAMS cable.