Africa's 1st Fibre Optic Cable Takes off In Lagos

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ABUJA, July 21, (THEWILL) - A major breakthrough was recorded today as MainOne Company Limited launched the first fibre optic cable technology aimed at bringing major changes in Information Communication Technology (ICT) in Africa and Nigeria.

The submarine cable, which took off successfully in Lagos today, was developed at a cost of $240 million (equivalent of N36 billion) and will enable international video conferencing with clear audio and visual quality.

Speaking at the take-off ceremony in Eko Hotels and Suites, Chairman of the of the company, Mr. Fola Adeola said the submarine cables were laid all the way from Portugal to Lagos, about 7, 200 kilometres.

The company's chairman added that the firm currently "has a solid base in London, South Africa, Bangalore and Tenerife."

He explained the difficulty in getting the project to a start, especially while laying the sub-sea cables saying, "The company was required to sign papers and pay for right of ways in some countries while others required the company to sign an undertaken not to damage subsea cables already in place in the course of laying a fresh one."

In her address, the company's Chief Executive Officer, Ms. Funke Okpeke explained that it will be transmitting at a speed of 4.92 terabytes about five terabytes, stressing that what has been made available is faster than the 40 gigabytes that is available in Europe.

She added that the cable made landing stations in Ghana, Morocco, Canary Islands, Senegal and Ivory Coast.

The managing director said, "The cable will deliver unprecedented broadband capacity to West Africa more than ten times what is currently available with its cable systems now turned on MainOne is poised to champion a communications revolution in Africa impacting businesses, governments and individuals by providing higher bandwidths and exceptional speed at a lower cost.

"The project will impact all sectors from education to health, entertainment etc, adding that it will help to drive economic growth and create job opportunities in the whole of Africa," she said.

While giving his speech on the occasion, the Acting Vice Chairman Nigeria Communications Commissions (NCC), Dr. Bahire Gwandu warned them not to be complacent, adding that bigger ones with higher capacity will soon be around the corner.

He said that because the NCC was desperate for a fibre optic cable to rollout in the country forced it to slash the firm’s license to N25 million and called on the firm to reciprocate the gesture by making sure that Nigerians have access to the service at the cheapest available rate.

Gwandu called on Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN) to reduce cost per kilometre on right of ways for telecommunications companies so that the services would come to Nigerians at a cheaper rate.

According to him, telecommunications companies are crying wolf that the state government charges $60 per kilometres of right of ways.

Reacting to Gwandu's request, Fashola called on telecoms firms to always inform the state ahead of time instead of destroying existing infrastructures just to lay cables.

Cross River State Governor Mr. Liyel Imoke also described the technology as ground breaking in the information and communication industry. According to him, the firm will revolutionize business and technology in Nigeria and Africa. The technology was later demonstrated with teleconferencing between Lagos and London, Bangalore in India, South Africa and Tenerife.