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Government cashes in on WACS

The state’s investment of N$66 million in the upgrading of the digital network that connects to the West Africa Cable System (WACS) will pay off through an agreement with Telecom Namibia for the supply of free internet bandwidth over a five year period.
Speaking in Windhoek earlier this week at the implementation of WACS, the Minister of Information and Communication Technology, Hon Joel Kapaanda said the first submarine cable landing station in Namibia means that Namibia is for the first time directly and reliably connected to the rest of the world through an undersea cable that landed in Namibia.

The government handed over exclusive capacity rights of WACS to Telecom after the launch of the sub-Saharan undersea fibre optic cable on May 2012 connecting eight West African countries.
Telecom has since continued to expand the national fibre network with over 12,000 kilometres connecting all major towns in Namibia. For three years, Telecom will provide the government with 300 Mbits/s bandwidth per year, later increasing to 600 Mbits/s. Kapanda, announcing the progress of WACS said the government is currently upgrading its network to cater for the soon envisioned capacity.
“This upgrade will strengthen the government network backbone infrastructure that enables seamless government service delivery in all the regions”, Kapanda said. The agreement with Telelcom will allow for an additional 600 Mbits/s in the third year at no additional cost.
Regional Government Service Hubs are being implemented with power connections and fibre connections installed in all regions. Equipment installation at several government ministries in the Khomas, Oshanana and Karas Region is completed while the Piloting Phase for some government ministries in receiving the first 300 Mbit/s bandwith from WACS was already delivered last month.
Telecom Namibia, MTC and Nampower have entered into an agreement to access and utilize the national power utility company’s country wide power transmission fibre network. Complementing the existing optic fibre transmission network and enabling reliable connection to the WACS landing station in Swakopmund are the drivers for the tripartite deal.Kapanda noted that the use of Nampower’s infrastructure will be useful in cases of emergency where Telecom’s network cannot be used. Currently, Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe are reliably connected to WACS through Namibia.  This achievement is in line with the SADC Regional Information, Infrastructure Project to ensure direct fibre optic terrestrial inter-connectivity between SADC countries. This means that Namibia is in the leading role to directly connect to all its neighbours through direct, high capacity and multiple fibre links. In addition, Telecom has expanded its network through the establishment of five international Points-of-Presence (POPs) in London (UK); Frankfurt (Germany); Johannesburg and Cape Town (South Africa) and Lusaka (Zambia). This allows efficient connection and usage of not only WACS capacity but also other capacities on other submarine cables that Namibia can access. Telecom Namibia’s  Head: of Design, Engineering, Planning & Implementation Laban Hiwilepo said at this week’s event that WACS will also benefit the education sector as ICT is an enabler in all sectors. He further added that an education network for all institutions has been implemented with the Polytechnic of Namibia being the first recipient in the implementing phase for the purpose of non-commercial use.

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