Burundi readies for a fibre-optic cable connection

With the help of the World Bank, the government of Burundi has embarked on a 13000-kilometre fibre-optic project set to cover the capital Bujumbura, 17 provinces and the country’s major borders.

This will see the landlocked country connect to international fibre-optic cables for the first time, and an end to dependency on satellite connections.

Salvator Niyibizi, the Executive Secretary of the Executive Secretariat for Information and Communication Technologies (SETIC) in the Burundian Ministry of Transport, Posts and Telecommunications said completion of the first phase of the cable is expected in the first quarter of 2012.

Burundi will however have to rely heavily on the Rwanda and Tanzania infrastructure. Rwanda has already completed laying its national backbone covering 2,300 kilometers, while Tanzania is still working on a 10,000-kilometer fibre cable infrastructure.

The new cable is also set to make Burundi’s bandwidth prices drop significantly. Currently, telecoms operators in Burundi pay US$2,500-3,000 per Mbps per month for international bandwidth.

Speaking in Kigali, Rwanda, Nyibizi said he expects the cost of Internet to go down significantly by about 70 percent in the long-run.

The project that was at the outset, a public-private partnership that brought together the government and the five telecoms operators, who formed a company called Burundi Backbone Systems (BBS). The World Bank initiated the project in late 2008 with a funding of about US$10.5 million.

Two of the five mobile operators in Burundi have already launched 3G broadband services in anticipation of the Internet boom

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