Experts Discuss Cable Network Project

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By Petronella Sibeene WINDHOEK A five-member delegation from Botswana last week held talks with the Deputy Prime Minister Dr Libertina Amathila as a follow-up to Namibia’s invitation to participate in an under-sea regional cable network project. Botswana’s President Festus Mogae extended the invitation for Namibia to participate in the ambitious cable network project. The delegation led by the Minister of Communications, Science and Technology Venson-Moitoi discussed issues surrounding the importance of ICT and development. According to the Deputy Prime Minister, the brief visit by the Botswana delegation looked at how the two countries could strengthen and realize their inter-connection needs to intercontinental under-sea telecommunication cables as well as inter-regional terrestrial networks. This, she added will require that both governments look into possibilities of joint telecommunications infrastructure development, in order to enhance the capacity of the telecommunications sector. “Of particular relevance to the afore-mentioned fact is the need to create direct connectivity between Namibia and Botswana, ” she said. In April, Mogae extended an invitation to his counterpart Hifikepunye Pohamba to participate in the under-sea regional cable network project. The under-sea project, Mogae stated, is aimed at improving current capacity and reliability of the telecommunication systems in the SADC region. He announced that Botswana has expanded her connectivity by participating in several initiatives including WAFS, which is a project that connects countries along the western coast of Africa from Nigeria to Namibia. Considering that Botswana is a land-locked country, Mogae invited Namibia to become part of the project so that the country could make use of Namibian waters. Amathila says to possibly undertake this initiative, both countries will have to further increase cooperation in the regulatory, commercial and technical areas of the telecommunications sector. Despite the discussions, the two parties could not sign a joint communiquÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚©, as there are few issues that need clarification. The head of the Botswana team stated that the Namibian and Botswana governments have common features. The culture and traditions of the two countries bind the two nations together and it is through this that several agreements of mutual cooperation have been signed through the years. She added that the two countries are looking at the new era in economic development in technology through the sea. “Development in future will be ICT based. Our people need access to this ICT or else there will be no development at all especially if the infrastructure is lacking,” she said. High capacity national telecommunications network is essential to create an environment that attracts high value investors in the information and knowledge management sector, Mogae indicated. The Southern African region through its body SADC has been involved in different projects aimed at improving the investor climate in the region. So far, major projects to improve Botswana’s international connectivity through under-sea fibre-optic cables on the east and west coasts of Africa have been established. The country has also completed detailed feasibility studies for the East African Cable System (EACSy) whilst the one for the West African Festoon System (WAFS) is in progress.