A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to visit the SEACOM
cable landing site in Mombasa, Kenya. The main reason for visiting is that I am at the early stages of a multi-year project to investigate the social and economic effects of the cable. Peter Ouko Odhiambo
(pictured below) kindly showed me around. This SEACOM
cable is the first of three that will carry most digital information between East Africa and the rest of the world (before the arrival of the cable all data had to travel via costly satellite infrastructure).
The photo below is the first place at which the cable emerges from the ocean after its long trip from Mumbai
, Marseilles and London. The landing site is actually next door to Fort Jesus
: an old Portuguese fort in the heart of old Mombasa (long a symbol of a very different kind of economic integration with the outside world).
This photo shows a discarded piece of cable in front of the landing site. Almost all of the cable is made of steel rods and other types of padding.
The actual fibre optic cables are incredibly thin. You can just make out the six thin strands to the right of my head in this photo. These strands carry almost all internet
data (and international phone calls) between East Africa and the rest of the world.
See also:New Africa broadband ‘ready’East Africa gets high-speed web (BBC)