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EASSy gets big boost

afrol News, 3 December - The signing of loan agreements for the installation of the East African Submarine Cable System (EASSy) clearly indicates a positive sign for the lofty initiative. The loan agreements have been signed by the African Development

Bank (AfDB) and other participating development financial institutions, French development Agency (AFD), the European Investment Bank, Germany's Development Bank and the International Finance Corporation of the World Bank group..

EASSy - the landmark fibre-optic cable project - will connect 22 coastal and land-locked African countries to each other and the rest of the world with high-quality internet and international communications services, AfDB said in a statement.

Sponsored by 25 telecommunications operators most of which are African, the project will construct and operate a submarine fibre-optic cable along the east coast of Africa that will run for 10,000 kilometers from the continent's southern tip to the African horn, connecting South Africa, Mozambique, Madagascar, Tanzania, Kenya, Somalia, Djibouti, and Sudan.

Another 13 adjoining countries - including Botswana, Burundi, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Chad, Ethiopia, Lesotho, Malawi, Rwanda, Swaziland, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe - will also be linked to the system as terrestrial backbone networks. The project is also set to provide the last link to complete the telecommunications loop on the continent.

The financial partners have pumped a long-term loan of US $70.7 milllion, with AfDB channelling its financing of US $14.5 milllion through the EASSy Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV). The remaining balance of the US $235 milllion project will be provided by the 25 private telecommunications operators who will in turn operate the cable as a consortium.

The EASSy project will not only transform the telecommunication lapses in Africa but it will also improve access for 250 million Africans as well as drastically reduce the cost for consumers and businesses.

The project's Hybrid SPV development moel will allow smaller operators to participate in the cable consortium at reduced individual entry investments.

Apart from adhering to the main development ojectives of Open Access, Non-discriminatory and affordable pricing, the cable will serve as a crucial medium of internet connectivity to carry telecoms traffic for all African operators from the Eastern and Southern African markets to onward connecting Cable networks in Europe, Asia and the Americas.

EASSy is the fruit of several years of collaboration between development institutions, the private and public sector. Its principal aim is to expand telecommunications infrastructure.

The initiative, which will contribute to the socio-economic development of the region, is in tandem with the strategies of both AfDB and the African Economic Partnership and Development.

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