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6 More Things We Learned About The DARE1 Submarine Cable Since It Landed In Mombasa A Week Ago

It’s just over a week since the US$ 86 million DARE1 submarine cable arrived in Mombasa, Kenya. The 36 Tbps DARE1 cable is the fifth submarine cable in Kenya joining the existing East African Marine System (TEAMS)Eastern Africa Submarine Cable System (EASSy)Lower Indian Ocean Network (LION) and SEACOM submarine cables that have been operational for the past decade.

As I blogged here last week, DARE1 comes at a time that Internet uptake and digital consumer behaviour in Kenya and the region is accelerating as everyone gets connected, consuming and generating vast amounts of digital content. The more broadband we get the more we need in a never-ending cycle.

In the past week, more has come to light in terms of why DARE1 is so very needed at this time and what it means for Kenya and the East African region. Based on various insights that I have picked up from several sources, here are some more interesting reasons why DARE1 is a big deal.

DARE1 Is Africa’s First Fully African Owned Submarine Cable.

This came as a surprise to be honest and I assumed that the existing submarine cables to Kenya must have had at least one that is fully African owned? Apparently this is not the case and DARE1 is unique in that all the shareholders in the cable are African telcos. More specifically, DARE1 is owned by a consortium consisting of Telkom Kenya, Somtel – a private Telecoms operator in Somalia, and Djibouti Telecom.

Kenya’s Existing Submarine Cables Are Halfway In Their Lifetime.

The existing four submarine cables in Kenya prior to the arrival of DARE1 were deployed 10 years ago. This means that with an expected operating lifetime of 20 years, these cables are essentially at halftime and will need to be replaced within the next 10 years.

Secondly, given the relentless pace of technology innovating on a global basis, the existing four cables are no longer at the very cutting edge of what is possible, making them increasingly obsolete in terms of market demands and consumer trends.

DARE1 Will Give Kenya Much Needed Internet Resilience.

One of the issues prior to the arrival of DARE1 is that the existing cables all terminate in other markets like Europe and the Middle East. DARE1 is different in that it connects via an entirely different route meaning that should anything happen to the other four submarine cables DARE1 will be an alternative.

DARE1 is also unique in that it has 3 pairs running between Mombasa and Djibouti. The express busway will have 36 Tbps which will be initially activated in trunks of 100 Gbps. This will enable flexibility in terms of capacity activation.

DARE1 Will Help Keep African Internet Traffic Local

One of the challenges with Internet traffic in Africa is that there are not enough local Internet exchange points which means that traffic between African countries often has to go to Europe or the Middle East before it comes back. This is not only expensive but also increases latency when it comes to how fast data traffic goes back and forth.

DARE1 has the opportunity to make a major impact in terms of keeping Internet traffic in Africa local by acting as an exchange point for data traffic. This means faster connections and also less expensive data costs when kept within the continent. This will be made possible by three pairs running between Mombasa and Djibouti.

Internet Demand In Kenya is Trebling Every Year But Costs Remain Unchanged.

According to an interview with Mr. Kebaso Mokogi, Telkom Kenya’s Managing Director for Carrier Services during the landing of the DARE1 submarine cable in Mombasa last week, the demand for Internet services in Kenya is trebling every year but the costs remain largely unchanged. This is clearly being driven by consumers and businesses using all sorts of Internet services at scale that demand more and more bandwidth.

Mr. Mokogi posts that with DARE1, Telkom Kenya will be able to help reduce the cost of the Internet significantly even as the demand for bandwidth continues to rise nearly exponentially. If this happens, and especially when 5G becomes widely available in Kenya and the region, DARE1 will be key to ensuring that the full potential of the digital economy can be realized.

DARE1 Will Go Live In June 2020.

Telkom Kenya’s Mr. Kebaso Mokogi also confirmed last week that DARE1 is set to go live in June 2020. That’s just a couple of months away and I am excited at the possibilities that will open up for consumers and businesses across the board. Do bear in mind that DARE1’s capacity is nearly a much on its own as is the combined capacity of all the four operating submarine cables have at this time.

The arrival of DARE1 is also expected to act as yet another catalyst for International digital service providers to open up data centers in the region as well as for startups to leverage cloud-based offerings locally since there will be enough bandwidth to serve customers on a global basis. Kenya’s digital economy is set for yet another shot in the arm as one of Africa’s leading technology innovation epicenters.

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