The Kenyan and Sudan governments are implementing an optic fibre cable system that will connect the two countries to high-speed internet within the next two years in efforts to enhance communication and inter-border trade.
The cable system is part of the Eastern Africa Regional Transport, Trade and Development Facilitation Project that will also see a road linking the two countries from Eldoret to Lodwar and Juba. A common border post will also be built at the interconnection of the two countries. South Sudan will similarly extend the cable from the Kenya-South Sudan border to Juba.
Some of the implementing agencies present at the announcement in an event held at Lodwar included ICT Authority, KENHA (Kenya National Highways Authority), Turkana and West Pokot County Governments, Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure as well as World Bank.
The ICT Authority is implementing the Kenyan-side of the project through a World Bank fund estimated at a cost of USD 25.5 million dollars, while the Sudan side is estimated to cost USD 15 million dollars. The road construction between Lokichar and Nedapal is worth USD 500 million dollars and will be funded by World Bank. The full cost of the road construction from Eldoret to Sudan border is an estimated USD 1.2 million dollars.
The construction expected to start in May 2016 to be complete by February 2019 will see the two countries benefit from fast movement of goods and people and enhanced internet connectivity. The connectivity will be used by towns and facilities along the corridor including schools, hospitals, Government offices and telecommunications operators.
It will also provide Last Mile Fibre Connectivity to County Headquarters from the Backbone and also provide network redundancy for existing links.
The towns of Lokichogio, Kakuma, Lokichar, Lodwar, Kitale, Eldoret will benefit from anupgrade of existing Internet points.
- County and National Governments offices in the corridor are expected to benefit as below:
- Employment for county youths during the construction
- High speed internet access
- Opening up of community based cyber cafes with high speed and reliable internet
- High speed and reliable access to Government services at Huduma centres as well as for such services as Identity Cards, Passports, Births and Deaths Registration and IFMIS.
- Unified communications system capability (Voice and Data) in one network
He further called on the counties in the area to reach out to private sector investors. The counties along the corridor are Usian Gishu, West Pokot and Turkana.
The approach of implementing fibre and road construction at the same time is a new government initiative of integrated infrastructure development that is expected to save costs and speed up development.
Kenya through the Ministry of ICT has already entered into an MOU with South Sudan through the Ministry of Telecommunications and Postal Services on January 23, 2015 in relation to the construction of the fibre optic cable that will interconnect both countries.