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USTDA Brings Broadband Access to Africa

As a direct result of USTDA's investment in the visit of a ministerial-level delegation to the United States and a regional ICT conference, over $400 million in U.S. equipment and services exports were utilized by African project managers to bring broadband communications to Africa. Without an undersea fiber-optic cable system, countries in the region relied on costly and scarce satellite links, which could not meet increasing demand for broadband communications services.

USTDA's multi-year effort to support the development of an undersea fiber-optic cable linking East Africa with communication hubs around the world proved successful when a group of African ministers visited the United States, as part of a USTDA-funded program, and convinced potential financiers, including Sithe Global that fiber-optic cable connecting East Africa to the rest of the world could be commercially attractive.

In June 2009, SEACOM became operational offering 1.2 terabytes per second of capacity to enable peer-to-peer networks, IPTV, and high-speed internet access. The 13,700km cable links South Africa, Mozambique, Tanzania, Kenya and Djibouti with India and Egypt. "The system, which was designed and installed using Tyco Telecommunications' state-of-the-art technology, will undoubtedly provide businesses and citizens in South and East Africa alike with the capabilities they need to communicate with the rest of the world and participate in the global marketplace," said Debbie Brask, Managing Director of Project Management for Tyco Telecommunications.

As described by SEACOM's Chief Executive Officer Brian Herlihy, USTDA's multi-year effort was critical to SEACOM's launch. "The impetus for the cable project is directly attributable to Sithe Global's participation at the half-day briefing sponsored by the USTDA visit."

The impact of broadband worldwide and the timeliness of the USTDA-sponsored meetings and conference provided a confluence of factors that pushed the imperative for African countries to liberalize the market for all consumers, including American companies, resulting in increased opportunities to do business overseas.