Safaricom is building a communication corridor in unexploited northern Kenya
Lack of communication connectivity has seen the region lag behind as the rest of the country has moved forward
Making a phone call is a nightmare while internet access is almost nonexistent which has led to the area being favoured by terror group Al-Shabab.
This is however set to change after Kenya’s largest telecommunication giant acquired a 260-kilometre stretch of fibre cable between Marsabit and the border town of Moyale.
Safaricom bought the fibre cable from Mauritius-based Bandwidth and Cloud Services for an undisclosed amount and the deal received regulatory approval from the anti-trust last Friday.
“We continuously look for means to expand our coverage and find additional fibre routes that will enable our customers have convenient access to more connectivity options,” Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore told a local daily.
Bandwidth and Cloud Services East Africa Ltd, which owns fibre cables across Eastern Africa said it disposed of the Marsabit-Moyale fibre line because the firm is withdrawing from the Ethiopian market.
“The asset was no longer in line with our strategy as we are withdrawing from the Ethiopian market,” said Yonas Maru, founder and managing director at the firm.
Safaricom hopes the acquisition would set it on a path to finally open up the northern Kenya frontier by connecting its residents to Internet access.
It is also a strategy by Safaricom to provide an additional redundancy route through Ethiopia in the event of outages on the Mombasa undersea cables.
“It gives us enhanced access to additional international routes through Ethiopia for redundancy purposes beyond the international cables landing in Mombasa.”
The move also marks a change in Safaricom’s strategy to acquire its own fibre optic cable rather than outsourcing. In 2013, Safaricom hired Ericsson and Chinese firm Huawei to build its metro fibre optic cable expected to cover 2,400 kilometres.
The acquisition now raises Safaricom’s fibre network to 4,190km, connecting more than 53,000 homes and 1,445 commercial buildings with Internet.
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