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Paul Taylor

By John Churu, Gaborone, Botswana

The West African Cable System (WACS) has been finally launched in Botswana. The Botswana 2012 ICT Pitso would have been incomplete without this very important pronouncement which, not surprisingly, had attracted a full house. In today’s global village, high speed reliable internet connectivity is a prerequisite for any country to have any meaningful competitive edge.

The BTC Group CEO, Paul Taylor, who gave a detailed synopsis of the WACS journey, said: “The government of Botswana through BTC invested USD37.5 million in the USD650 million undersea submarine communication cable linking Africa and the UK along the West Coast of Africa, an investment made jointly with the Government of Namibia who also contributed USD37.5 million.”

Both Botswana and Namibia own approximately 9.2% of the entire project, which according to Taylor; will be operated on an open access basis with other stakeholders. It is envisaged that WACS, which was successfully landed at Swakopmund, Namibia on February 8, 2011 is geared towards changing the lives of the peoples of the two nations and also the other part as well.

“It will enhance Botswana’s international connectivity by providing the nation with high quality and reliable internet and telephony services,’ explained Taylor. This undersea cable system carries data, voice and video faster and cheaper thereby providing users with enhanced direct international submarine cable connectivity.

Botswana and Namibia signed a cooperative agreement on May 14 2009, governing their joint investment and participation in the WACS project to deliver the vision of enhancing high speed, lower cost connectivity to the world to enable economic growth and diversification, thereby creating a platform for increased prosperity for citizens.

This development of the WACS began in 2009, the cable covers a distance of 14 000 kilometres, with 15 established landing Stations along the route. It will function to reduce the cost to connect the West Coast of Africa into the high-speed global Telecommunications network for many years to come according to ICT pundits.

This cable which is designed to support present and future internet, e-commerce, data, video and voice services was officially inaugurated on June 26 in Swakopmund by the Pesidents of the two countries.

Through Telcom, Namibia will operate and maintain the cable landing station, BTC and other stakeholders will have access to the facility and be able to ‘co-locate’ their services within the station. “Earlier this year we signed agreements which will enable BTC to use Telcom Namibia’s network to access BTC’s capacity at Swakopmund landing station,” elaborated Taylor.

In addition, Taylor said “Taking cognizance of the fact that WACS will be operational for the next 25 years, BTC has invested about $12 million in expanding its Trans-Kalahari fibre national backbone network through a new transmission platform called Dense Wavelength Division Multiplex (DWDM) providing a major path between Botswana and Namibia.”

In order to provide resilience such that the network is always available to the customers, BTC will ultimately be connecting to Namibia through two different routes namely the Mamuno/ Buitepos border post to form a ring network. “This will provide the required resiliency and availability of service in case of failures in one route."     

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