Bloomberg News

Kenya Pushes for Expansion of Back-Up Internet Links After Cuts

March 15, 2012

Kenya wants to install more back-up telecommunications cables so Internet providers can re-route traffic if the main network goes down, said Bitange Ndemo, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Communications.

Parts of Kenya lost Internet capacity after a construction company yesterday accidentally severed a data cable along Mombasa Road. That followed outages last month after a ship cut the East African Submarine System cable that serves east and southern African nations. It is owned by a group of investors that includes MTN Group Ltd. (MTN) and Vodacom Group Ltd. (VOD)

“Even with the negligence of cable cuts by ships, we are taking steps to ensure there are more redundancies and a seamless re-routing when these cuts happen,” Ndemo said today in an interview in Nairobi, the capital. Alternate routes may involve laying down a ring of fibre-optic cable in the port city of Mombasa and a new line through neighboring Tanzania, he said.

The number of Internet users in Kenya jumped to 14.3 million in September, from 12.5 million in June, boosted by increased use of mobile phones, according to the Communications Commission of Kenya.

About 36 percent of citizens had access to the Internet in September, compared with 32 percent in June, the commission said.

Safaricom Ltd. (SAFCOM), East Africa’s biggest mobile phone operator, has market share of 68 percent, followed by Airtel Networks Kenya Ltd., controlled by Delhi-baed Bharti Airtel Ltd. (BHARTI) with 16 percent. Telkom Kenya Ltd. has 10 percent of customers and Essar Telecom Kenya Ltd., unit of Essar Group (ESSR) of India 6.2 percent, it said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Sarah McGregor in Nairobi at smcgregor5@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at barden@bloomberg.net


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