Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

FOA Certified Fiber Optic (Technical) Course

 

Invitation to participate: FOA Certified Fiber Optic (Technical) Course, 29th November to 2nd December 2011, at African eDevelopment Resource Centre Nairobi, Kenya.

African eDevelopment Resource Centre (AeRC) is an organization that champions ICT for capacity development initiatives in the region through knowledge sharing and skill development programmes.  We would like to invite you to a 4 day unique, authoritative, high-value, hands-on practical Fiber Optics course which will provide participants with essential skills and knowledge necessary to design, install, splice, connectorize, troubleshoot and test fiber optic systems.

  • Dates: 29th November – 2nd December 2011
  • Venue: eDevelopment House, 604 Limuru Road, Old Muthaiga, Nairobi, Kenya
  • Fee: US$ 1,630 per participant exclusive of VAT

About Certified Fiber Optics Technician (CFOT)

In today’s high tech world, certification is considered proof of professional status and is often required for jobs.  Students will be eligible to write the FOA (Fiber Optic Association) exam after completing the course. Successful students will receive the Certified Fiber Optics Technician (CFOT) accreditation, which includes a CFOT passport.

The FOA maintains a worldwide database of fiber optic installers, contractors and consultants as a resource for those searching for a designer or installer for fiber optic projects or trained employees. The database is searchable by location and fiber optic specialty. As of the end of 2006, over 20,000 CFOT’s have been certified through training at over 135 schools worldwide. The FOA is the most recognized certification in fiber optics in the world.

Who should attend?

Previous experience in this field of fiber optics is necessary. This training program is not limited to installers or technicians, it is an excellent credential for sales and marketing personnel, indicating their comprehensive knowledge of the industry and building confidence in their assistance to their customers.

Learning outcomes

This is a comprehensive, integrated training program which covers all aspects of both local and wide area optical networks to make sure that our students are fully prepared and employable. Optical fiber installation, splicing, connectorization, troubleshooting, acceptance testing and much more are taught with extensive hands-on practice.  Also covered is the use of transceivers, switching gear, splice enclosure hardware, and procedures pertaining to installing and testing them.

Click to Download Course Outline

Regards,

Kindest regards,

James Ngatia | Business Development Manager


Africa’s leading Consulting and Training partner in ICT and Telecommunications

D.I.T Registration No. DIT/TRN 705

eDevelopment House, 604, Limuru Road, Old Muthaiga

(+254-20-4041646/47/57 : :  M: +254 726 582828 or +254 738 818283 : : Skype name: james.ngatia

Visit our website www.africanedevelopment.org for the latest catalogs, eBooks and white papers

Certified Fiber Optic Training Course, 10-13 August 2010, eDevelopment Centre – Nairobi, Kenya

Invitation: Certified Fiber Optic Training Course, 10-13 August 2010, eDevelopment Centre – Nairobi, Kenya.

African eDevelopment Resource Center (AeRC) in collaboration with 3 Triple Play Fibre Optic Solutions would like to invite delegates to a 4 day unique, authoritative, high-value, hands-on practical course which will provide participants with essential skills and knowledge necessary to design, install, splice, connectorize, troubleshoot and test fiber optic systems.

AeRC is a not-for-profit organization championing ICT for capacity development initiatives in the region through knowledge sharing and skills development programmes. Formed in 2005, 3 Triple Play Fibre Optic Solutions based in South Africa is an organisation that specialises in installation and training in Fibre Optic Systems.

In today’s high tech world, certification is considered proof of professional status and is often required for jobs 3 Triple Play Fiber Optic Solutions is an approved training centre for the Fiber Optic Association Inc. (FOA). http://www.thefoa.org. Students will be eligible to write the FOA exam after completing the course. Successful students will receive the Certified Fiber Optics Technician (CFOT) accreditation, which includes a CFOT passport.

The FOA maintains a worldwide database of fiber optic installers, contractors and consultants as a resource for those searching for a designer or installer for fiber optic projects or trained employees. The database is searchable by location and fiber optic specialty.

As of the end of 2006, over 20,000 CFOT’s have been certified through training at over 135 schools worldwide. The FOA is the most recognized certification in fiber optics in the world.

Our Instructors

A number of instructors in this program are experienced academics from the University of KwaZulu-Natal with considerable theoretical backgrounds as well as extensive industrial experience related to fiber optic technology. (View the course outline below for more Details on the Lead Trainer).

Who should attend

This training program is not limited to installers or technicians, it is an excellent credential for sales and marketing personnel, indicating their comprehensive knowledge of the industry and building confidence in their assistance to their customers.

What will you learn

This is a comprehensive, integrated training program which covers all aspects of both local and wide area optical networks to make sure that our students are fully prepared and employable. Optical fiber installation, splicing, connectorization, troubleshooting, acceptance testing and much more are taught with extensive hands-on practice.

Also covered is the use of transceivers, switching gear, splice enclosure hardware, and procedures pertaining to installing and testing them.

Registration Fee

The registration fee for the workshop is US$1630 + 16 % VAT which will cover all the documentation, administration and meals during the workshop. To participate in this workshop, please fill out the attached registration form and return it to the email indicated. Due to the nature of the course we have a limited number of spaces available and will be allocated on a first-come-first-served basis.

Please find the links to download the Course Outline and Registration Form.

Prescribed Text for the Course will be provided upon registration:

We look forward to be of service to you should you need more information on the Course.

Regards,

Macharia Celestine

African eDevelopment Resource Centre
eDevelopment House : : 604 Limuru Road
Old Muthaiga : : P O Box 49475 00100
Nairobi : : Kenya
Landline +254 20 3741646/7 : : Cell +254 722 284 328
Training : : Research : : Consultancy : Publishing

2010 Capacity Building Opportunities:

  • VSAT Field Engineering: 7-9 July (Kenya)
  • GIS Disaster Management: 14-16 July(Kenya)
  • Knowledge Management Course: 21-23 July (Kenya)
  • Enterprise Resource Planning: 28-30 July (Kenya)
  • Certified Fibre Optic Technician: 10-13 August (Kenya)
  • Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL): 18-20 August (Kenya)
  • Satellite Communications Systems: 25-27 August (Kenya)
  • Mini-MBA in Telecoms: 6-9 September (Kenya)

Book Now, Limited spaces available.

The Proposed Constitution of Kenya – Review and Highlights

This is my digest of the just published, Proposed Constitution of Kenya. I have taken great liberties to highlight the articles, sections and subsections that touched me. I have added my comments in sime places, in others I have lifted the article or section verbatim. This is to give a broad view of the document, and specifics can be read on the actual. Also not not all chapters are represented in this digest, some were dull.

A copy of the Proposed Constitution is here. From your mobile go to http://katiba.mobi

I love this opening, just read and feel it.

PREAMBLE

We, the people of Kenya—

ACKNOWLEDGING the supremacy of the Almighty God of all creation:

HONOURING those who heroically struggled to bring freedom and justice to our land:

PROUD of our ethnic, cultural and religious diversity, and determined to live in peace and unity as one indivisible sovereign nation:

RESPECTFUL of the environment, which is our heritage, and determined to sustain it for the benefit of future generations:

COMMITTED to nurturing and protecting the well-being of the individual, the family, communities and the nation:

RECOGNISING the aspirations of all Kenyans for a government based on the essential values of human rights, equality, freedom, democracy, social justice and the rule of law:

EXERCISING our sovereign and inalienable right to determine the form of governance of our country and having participated fully in the making of this Constitution:

ADOPT, ENACT and give this Constitution to ourselves and to our future generations.

GOD BLESS KENYA

Awesome!

Lets dig in……….

Chapter One – Sovereignity of The People and Supremacy of This Constitution

Nothing exciting, read on

Chapter Two – The Republic

Article 8 – No state religion. Simple. Good.

Article 9 (3) – Kenyatta Day is now Mashujaa Day (very fitting), Moi Day scrapped (it was ridiculous in the first place, so I say….good riddance)

Chapter Three – Citizenship

Article 16 – A citizen by birth does not lose citizenship by acquiring the citizenship of another country. Diasporians who have been clamouring for this, start filling applications in your adopted countries.

Article 18 (g)- Parliament to enact legislation giving effect to the provisions in this Chapter. According to Schedule 5, this must be done within one year.

Chapter Four – The Bill of Rights

This chapter is quite comprehensive, and everyone needs to familiarize themselves with it. It is quite elaborate – freedoms, rights, justice, comsumer rights, environmental rights, media, fair hearing, application of justice, children, people with disabilities, youth, marginalised groups, minorities, elderly people, state of emergency, human rights and equality. It’s all there.

Article 26 – Right to life. Please read carefully what the Constitution says, reproduced here, verbatim;

26

(1) Every person has the right to life.

(2) The life of a person begins at conception.

(3) A person shall not be deprived of life intentionally, except to the extent authorised by this Constitution or other written law.

(4) Abortion is not permitted unless, in the opinion of a trained health professional, there is need for emergency treatment, or the life or health of the mother is in danger, or if permitted by any other written law.

Enough said. Where is the ambiguity?

Chapter Five – Land and Environment

The following is verbatim; read carefully

Article 68 – Parliament shall —

(a) revise, consolidate and rationalise existing land laws;

(b) revise sectoral land use laws in accordance with the principles set out in Article 60 (1); and

(c) enact legislation—

(i) to prescribe minimum and maximum land holding acreages in respect of private land;

(ii) to regulate the manner in which any land may be converted from one category to another;

(iii) to regulate the recognition and protection of matrimonial property and in particular the matrimonial home during and on the termination of marriage;

(iv) to protect, conserve and provide access to all public land;

(v) to enable the review of all grants or dispositions of public land to establish their propriety or legality;

(vi) to protect the dependants of deceased persons holding interests in any land, including the interests of spouses in actual occupation of land; and

(vii) to provide for any other matter necessary to give effect to the provisions of this Chapter.

Hope that is clear, owoing to our onbsession with matters, land. According to Schedule 5, the legislation to give life to Article 68 must be done within 18 months.

Chapter Six – Leadership and Integrity

Boring stuff.

Chapter Seven – Representation of The People

Article 85 – Any person is eligible to stand as an independent candidate for election if the person –

(a) is not a member of a registered political party and has not been a member for at least three months immediately before the date of the election

Article 88 (1) – There is established the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission

Article 89 – There shall be 290 constituencies of the National Assembly, which is established by Article 97 (1) (a)

According to schedule 5, legislation on Articles 82 (elections), 87 (electoral disputes), 88 (Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission) and 92 (political parties) must be enacted within one year. Very important.

Chapter Eight – The Legislature

Article 93 (1) – There is established a Parliament of Kenya, which shall consist of the National Assembly and the Senate.

Article 97 – The National Assembly shall comprise – 290 elected members from the constituncies, 47 women one from each county, 12 nominated by political parties according to number of seats won to represent special interests including the youth, persons with disabilities and workers. Total 349 members, plus the Speaker, an ex-officio member.

Article 98 – The Senate shall comprise – 47 elected members one per county, 16 women nominated by political parties according to the seats won, 2 youth (man and woman), 2 members with disabilities (man and woman). Total 67 members, plus the Speaker, an ex-officio member.

Article 101 (1) – A general election of members of Parliament shall be held on the second Tuesday in August in every fifth year. Brilliant stuff, no more surprises, start marking your calenders.

Article 104 (1) and (2) – People may recall members. In Section 2, Parliament to legislate, according to Schedule 5 within two years, on how the the recall clause actually works. This is very sad, they will move to save their sorry behinds.

Article 126 (1) and (2) – Either House may sit anywhere in Kenya. Great, let’s move them to Lodwar already, will help open up the area

Chapter Nine – The Executive

Article 129 (1) and (2) – Executive authority is ours to exercise as we deem necessary. The person we elect as President has this authority, no monkeying around.

Article 131 (3) – The person we appoint to exercise executive authority, also known as President, shall NOT hold any other State or public. Very important since we want focus.

Article 132 (e) – The President shall, with the approval of Parliament, declare war. Very important, remember, Kenya Armed Forces mission … “giving the enemy a reason to die for their country”. We can’t deny them that.

Article 138 (4) a) and b) – Winner of Presidential election must garner more than 50% of all votes and at least 25% of votes in half of the counties. That’s called mandate. By the people. For the people.

Article 138 (4) – Presidential election run-off between the top two contenders within 30 days

Article 138 (10) a) and b) – Electoral Commission MUST declare winner within 7 days of election in writing to Chief Justice and incumbent President. Very important, no wasting time here.

Article 140 (1) (2) (3) – Presidential election petition within 7 days, Supreme Court decison within 14 days (and its final), fresh election within 60 days after determination. Solid stuff, no monkeying around.

Article 148 (1) – President’s declared running mate automatically becomes Deputy President, simple. I hope my friends are considering running for Presidency.

Article 152 (1) d) – Cabinet Secretaries (formerly Ministers) shall be between 14 and 22 in number. Just imagine that! Make it 14 please.

Article 152 (3) – A Cabinet Secretary shall not be a Member of Parliament. Its about time! I shall definitely be gunning for one of the posts.

Chapter Ten – Judiciary

Article 159 (1) – Judicial authority is derived from the people and vests in, and shall be exercised by, the courts and tribunals established by or under this Constitution. Thats sounds just great! We are indeed the holder’s of all the power.

Article 169 (1) The subordinate courts are (among others) —

(b) the Kadhis’ courts

Article 169 (5) The jurisdiction of a Kadhis’ court shall be limited to the determination of questions of Muslim law relating to personal status, marriage, divorce or inheritance in proceedings in which all the parties profess the Muslim religion and submit to the jurisdiction of the Kadhi’s courts. Simple and clear, what the hullabaloo about?

Chapter Eleven – Devolved Government

Article 176 (1) There shall be a county government for each county, consisting of a county assembly and a county executive.

Article 177 (1) A county assembly consists of—

a) members elected by the registered voters of the wards

Article 179 (1) The executive authority of the county is vested in, and exercised by, a county executive committee.

Article 179 (2) The county executive committee consists of—

(a) the county governor and the deputy county governor; and

(b) members appointed by the county governor with the approval of the county assembly

Article 180 (1) The county governor shall be directly elected by the voters registered in the county, on the same day as a general election

Article 184 (1) National legislation shall provide for the governance and management of urban areas and cities and shall, in particular—

(a) establish criteria for classifying areas as urban areas and cities

The legislation for urban areas and cities, according to Schedule 5, must be enacted within one year.

Chapter Twelve – Public Finance

Nothing exciting, just mind-numbing money matters, dig in if you have the stomach.

Chapter Thirteen – The Public Service

Boring.

Chapter Fourteen – National Security

Article 243

(1) There is established the National Police Service.

(2) The National Police Service consists of—

(a) the Kenya Police Service; and

(b) the Administration Police Service.

(3) The National Police Service is a national service and shall function throughout Kenya.

So there you have the cops, we still need them. We hope Parliament will enact legislation to improve on their operations and professionalism.

Article 245 (1) There is established the office of the Inspector-General of the National Police Service.

The holder of this office can only serve one, four-year term, no re-appointment. This will be the big cop, lording over both the Kenya Police Service and Administration Police Service. Each will be headed by a Deputy Inspector-General. No fuss.

Sixth Schedule (Article 262) – Transitional and Consequential Provisions

This is very detailed, and I could not understand most parts since am a lay man. It deals with what happens after the new Constitution is promulgates, after a resoundig YES vote by the majority. You better read it for yourself.

Again the Proposed Constitution is here. From your mobile go to http://katiba.mobi

Why I Will Not Use Zain’s Zap Again…..

This is a rant. Events occur in real time…..

Being that time of the month when bills are settled, and being very angry with a certain leading mobile network operator, who shall remain unnamed, I decided to send some money using Zain’s Zap money transfer service. Since I am supposed to be very organized, I get the cash and start the arduous task of locating a Zap dealer. You see the second largest mobile operator, Zain, almost 10 years in business, does not have very many agents for the money transfer service. From a second floor office, I am able to locate a few agents in downtown Nairobi.

I march gallantly to the first agent, an yes, they can serve me. Am so excited, especially when I remember how much I dislike the unnamed leading operator’s service. More on that later.

Since I registered for Zap about 3 months ago, I had never actually used the service and I can’t remember my PIN. So I quickly call Customer Support, who promptly pick my call…..that doesn’t happen in Kenya! The young man at the other end questions me to ascertin I am who I claim to be. He resets my PIN, and I quickly change it to ****. Awesome!

Back at the agent’s, I hand over the cash and we transact, now I have the electronic value in my SIM. I am jumping up and down. I fire off a quick text to the recipient, and tell him, please wait in a few seconds you will be Zap’ing rich.

The first attempt to send KES. 13,000 fails.  I try again, thinking I missed something, since this is the first time I am doing it. Again, I get a message about exceeding the limit of 5,000. Am stunned! Since am outside the agent’s shop, I go back in and ask about limits. Girl One tells me newly registered SIMS can only send/receive 5,000. I say I registered 3 months ago BUT have never transacted. The other Girl 2 says, that’s rubbish, you can send and receive any amount up to a max of 35,000. I agree with the second girl. The first says if I don’t agree with her, I try again. I try and get the same message. Am getting annoyed. Girl 1 suggests I send in 3 tranches – 5000, 5000, 3000 total 13,000. Mmmmmhhh….since the cost is only 10 per send transaction, I agree with her, pull a chair and start the motions.

The first 5,000 is off super fast, no delay. My confidence is restored in Zain. The second 5,000 bounces, something about the recipient’s account being over limit with electronic cash! I try again, and again. No luck. I even check my balance at a cost of 1/-, still at 8,000. Mmmm….

I remember Zain’s Customer Scare, sorry Care works and you can get through on the first attempt. I call, and some guy picks, I cry my heart out to him. He explains that my account limit is set to 5,000. I tell him that’s fine, could he make it 35,000?  No sir. He says he will put the request to the “technical people”, and I ask whether he can fast track that, so I can transact now. He says the “technical people” have gone for the day, so I have wait. I am stunned beyond words. I rant a bit, but cool off, telling him its not his fault. I finish saying I will never use Zap again. He courteously says, thank you for calling etc etc

Back at the agent’s I ask Girl 1, who is supposed to be most knowledgeable, what to do and she says unless the recipient withdraws the cash, we can’t send him more. I start shaking in anger, tears well up in my eyes. I cannot believe this. I pace around the shop thinking…and get a eureka! I ask to withdraw the 8,000 so I can send by parcel courier. It should get there in a couple of hours. Tough luck! The money I just gave them has been taken to the bank! OK, where is the next agent? They direct me, and am off.

The leading mobile operator, who still remains unnamed, seems to have agents all over, but I can’t transact with them right? I am angry with them. I walk all over trying to locate the next Zap agent, and voila! I spot one. Uh….they don’t have cash so we can’t transact. Fair enough, where is the next agent? I am directed and am off.

Third agent for the day, and yes, she has all the cash I need. I quickly withdraw, zap zap. No fuss. Am happy again as I walk towards the bus stage where the matatus to my village operate from. A text message lands in my phone. Recipient has had a brainwave! Why not send using ______ (the unnamed leading mobile operator in Kenya). I am almost hit by a speeding motorist as I jump and curse him.

Everywhere I look, I see the colour schemes of the unnamed leading operator. So I reluctantly walk into one agent and inquire whether the service is working. Yes sir. Can you serve me? Yes sir. Do you have electronic float? Yes sir. Are there any delays? No sir. Are you sure? Yes sir. Is the service down? No sir. I hand over the cash, and get the electronic value in my other SIM. I quickly fire it off to the recipient, who receives and acknowledges, by text. It worked!

That’s how I sent Zap using _____ (the unnamed leading mobile operator’s money transfer service).

Cc:  Zain / Zap Customer Care

Of Zain, Bharti Airtel and Indian MNCs in Kenya

So MTC Kuwait, trading as Zain, is flipping its Africa operations to Bharti Airtel of India? If the deal goes through, and we shall know by March 25th, then the metamorphosis of Kenya’s second largest GSM mobile network, by subscriber base, will have undergone yet another momentous change.

Starting off as Kencell (jointly owned by Naushad Merali’s Sameer Group and Vivendi), part of the company was then sold by Vivendi Universal of France to Celtel BV, then promptly re-branded Celtel. That was in 2004. Celtel continued with many mistakes that Safaricom capitalised on. Dealers were unhappy, marketing and advertising did not touch the Kenyan soul (many of them were cut-n-paste pan-African ads which did little to “talk” to Kenyans), and a high employee turn over, especially at the executive level did not instill alot of confidence in the business. Interestingly, the most recognised CEO in Kenya is Michael Joseph of Safaricom, who has been at the helm since inception.

Almost a year later in 2005, MTC of Kuwait came knocking with some serious petro-dollars, a whole US$3.4bn and bought out Celtel International with all its network assets, including Celtel Kenya. The network later went on to be re-branded as Zain, in line with MTC’s international branding policy. The story has not ended yet, as we await March 25th when Bharti and MTC will emerge from the boardroom.

The journey has been long and arduous, as Zain’s number 1 nemesis and market leader, Safaricom, overcame teething problems in the early years to streak way ahead of the competition. Safaricom simply studied what the people wanted, capitalised on Zain’s simple mistakes, like charging a fee for any recharge voucher (since discontinued) and basically connecting with the ordinary Kenyan who was being introduced to mobile telephony, or any form of telephony for that matter, for the first time. Safaricom quickly cut an image of a “mwananchi” (citizen) conscious company, while Zain, then Kencell, was seen as elitist and playing to the corporate theatre. This was to set the battle field dynamics that played until the other two late entrants, yu, an Essar Telecom network, and Orange, a France Telecom network came in. Safaricom by then was light years ahead in terms of innovation, products (especially M-Pesa money transfer), mass subscriber base appeal, philanthrophy, network coverage etc.

It will be interesting to see how Bharti Airtel of India deals with the Zain brand, an early starter turned laggard. Bharti is no push over, it is India’s largest integrated telecom company in terms of customer base. They offer mobile services, fixed line services, broadband & IPTV, DTH, long distance and enterprise services. Globally, Bharti Airtel is the 3rd largest in-country mobile operator by subscriber base, behind China Mobile and China Unicom. In India, the company has a 24.6% share of the wireless services market, followed by 17.7% for Reliance Communications and 17.4% for Vodafone Essar (part owned by Essar Telecom, operating in Kenya as yu). Are the Indians coming?

Will Bharti start by re-branding Zain? Perhaps this time to Airtel (the brand they use in the largest GSM network in India?) How do they address subscriber apathy despite great tariffs, well built network, and competitive products e.g. Zap money transfer? How do they address the distribution chain?

We can only wait and see.

Review of Fibre Optic Cable in East Africa – Part 2

Fast forward to Q2 of 2009, and Kenya has finally joined the ranks of the information superhighway, thanks to two submarine fibre optic cables, dubbed TEAMS an EASSY safely in Mombasa.

Post Update!

Thanks to Seth’s comment in Part 1, SEACOM (a Mauritius based company, that provides high capacity bandwidth linking business and communities) is laying a cable that will link the East Coast of Africa linking Southern and East Africa, Europe and South Asia. There is a landing at Mombasa for the 1.2TB/s capacity cable, to enable high definition TV, peer to peer networks, IPTV, and surging Internet demand. Pricing will be significantly lower than current satellite or fibre pricing cable. Bring it on SEACOM!

Read part 1 here for details and comment. What does it mean for internetpreneurs like me who want to hog broadband bandwidth from the balcony? What does it mean for technology companies in Kenya? What about education institutions? Once the mystical fibre optic cable lands in Mombasa, Kenya will never be the same again. At least that is what pundits tell us. We are assured of bottom rock priced high-speed Internet, access to the vaults that hold all the information we could ever need. But is price the issue?

What Kenya needs badly is last mile infrastructure, the home stretch. We have invested heavily in backbone transmission capacity from Mombasa where the cable is landing to the rest of the country. Telkom Kenya, KDN, Jamii Telkom and the Govt of Kenya through FONN is ensuring every village will have lit fibre a stone throw away. Many large institutions (hospitals, research institutes, education institutes etc have their own campus fibre ring).

Last mile ….. The question is how then do we interconnect my village ePasha center to the world? The options are limitless, with wireless providing some of the best options. Am seeing some home grown companies offering my village connectivity to the backbone cable. We could use wireless e.g WiMAX to deliver the information to my coffee farm. The options are many, and we shall not be re-inventing the wheel. In another part of this series we shall look at what the ISPs and PDNOs are offering.

The biggest boom is however expected in the BPO sector. Already the operators in this sub-sector have formed an association to better front their cause and case. It is expected that with a large pool of young, educated Kenyans with impeccable English (unlike mine), this area will take off. But we need to remember that this industry is very competitive and we shall be late entrants. I still think that we can do alot of call centres (alot of experience is being developed especially by the GSM operators), back office operations, software technology parks, and other outsourcing jobs that can keep our people happy and gainfully employed. We can now comfortably have hosting companies and managed server farms, offering crucial redundancy and disaster recovery for others in the rest of the world. Ah! it shall truly be exciting times in Kenya.

While we celebrate the landing of the cable (I cannot wait for that day), we need to think ahead and create opportunities for our economy, so the landing of the cables at Mombasa is not the end of the story.

TEAMS and EASSY, we await. In part 3 we shall look indepth at BPO, calls centres, software technology parks, cyber villages (and cafes), KeKoBi, and the Kenya ICT Boards role.

Review of Fibre Optic Cable in East Africa — Part 1

The much-talked about digital divide has left a yawning gap between the Eastern African countries and the rest of the world. A lot has been done by national telecoms companies, mostly former lethargic government-owned entities. They have kept us connected to the world using satellite links. Though stable, we have to contend with high costs. Higher bandwidths usually means more money shelled out. The cost of satellite links is high, and their reliability and bandwidth not the best. We shall retain the links as back up, since even under sea cables get broken or cut by deep sea trawlers, if not under sea quakes. Time has now come for us to cross the chasm and leap into the information superhighway. Hello world!

Not to be left behind, the Kenyan government, inspired by a growing economy hungry for information has spurred growth in the telecoms sector like never before. For once we have an enabling and responsive political climate. This has meant the government can now attract top-notch professionals to steer the ship across the digital divide. The Ministry of Information and Communications is now very visible and its PS is very vocal and energetic on matters fibre optic cable connection to Mombasa. The Kenya ICT Board on its part is the vehicle driving the ICT dream all the way to my village. I hope my people shall appreciate all these efforts.

We have many home grown companies that are complementing Telkom Kenya’s efforts to connect us. Telkom on their part are now a leaner and more efficient outfit, thanks to a restructuring and eventual sale to France Telecom. Their service provision has gone a notch higher, inspired no less by emerging start ups hungry for their business. Invariably, the battle for the fibre cable connection has gone a notch higher thanks to the new entrants.

First off the block was Telkom who laid a fibre between Mombasa City and Nairobi City. This was unprecedented, and Kenya Data Networks (KDN)matched them, with a similar link. The two went on to expand the fibre mesh within the cities and now it is common to have lit fibre in your door step. Not to be left behind, Jamii Telecom took the battle to the streets of Nairobi with their KES. 300 million Nairobi Metro Fibre. This mesh aims to bring fibre-to-the-home (FTTH). Lastly the Kenyan government through its Fibre Optic National Network (FONN) is laying fibre to the entire country, connecting villages and erstwhile remote places to the hubs in Nairobi and the landing spot in Mombasa. The Kenyan map has never looked better.

The missing link is Mombasa to the world …. but not to worry. We have two competing cable teams, TEAMS (The East African Marine System) and EASSY (East African Submarine Systems). The first, TEAMS, is a joint venture between the Govt of Kenya and Etisalat, the UAE national telecom operator. We should be hooked via Fujairah, UAE by Q1 of 2009. The Alcatel-Lucent cable laying ship is working round the clock to ensure this dream is realized. The other, Eassy, is an effort by the telecoms companies to get a share of the pie by laying a submarine cable all the way to Durban, South Africa. The more the merrier!

In part 2 we shall look at what all this cable being laid means for the Kenyan people and economy.