East Africa gets wired

My story on the new fiber optic cable connecting East Africa to the world went up today on GlobalPost:

DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania — Ramadhan Mubarak shook his head as he gestured to his six forlorn PCs.

“I believe that many people want to use the internet,” he said. “But most Tanzanians are poor, so they can’t manage the cost.”

Mubarak owns two of the handful of internet cafes in downtown Dar es Salaam, and he can barely cover his overhead of $1,500 a month. Like many people here, he’s hoping that will soon change: East Africa’s new fiber-optic cable has been laid across the Indian Ocean and made landfall here on July 23. When it goes into use in late August, it is likely to dramatically reduce costs and improve connectivity speed. Continue reading…
pre-cable internet ad

The cable to end all woes

I’ve been mulling over the news that the new fiber-optic cable has finally been laid to connect East Africa directly to the world via high-speed Internet. Tanzanians and the East African press are greeting it with a lot of excitement. That shouldn’t be surprising — Internet connectivity is a big headache here unless you’ve got good money to spend, and even then, it’s hard to do a lot of things taken for granted in the States, like watch YouTube. Still, some of the promises about the boon to the economy and dramatic reductions in Internet access cost seem a bit outlandish. (Reading that last article I can’t help but hear echoes of the monorail episode on The Simpsons.)

Then I came across this great post on Jackfruity describing the chaos that took over West Africa last week when the main cable connecting the region to Europe went down. Continue reading