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Building the infrastructure for an African Internet

Two new developments could lay the foundation for Africa coming more fully online and consuming, producing, and engaging with the global internet.

First, the South Africa Node points out the launch of the second East African Submarine System (EASSy) cable: "The 10 000 km EASSy (East African Submarine System) cable lands in South Africa, Mozambique, Madagascar, the Comores, Tanzania, Kenya, Somaliland, Djibouti and Sudan. The commercial launch of the EASSy cable follows the launch of the Seacom cable in July 2009 and Telkom's SAT-3 cable. EASSy is the highest capacity system serving sub-Saharan Africa and is the first to deliver direct connectivity between east Africa and Europe / North America. The cable will service the voice, data, video and internet needs of the region...and promises to bring to an end the limited and high cost of international bandwidth in South Africa.

Second, early signs of DotAfrica, an internet namespace for Africa could "contribute to the development of Internet on the African continent and proposes to re-invest proceeds into the social and technological advancement initiatives within the community. The AU Ministers are expected to mandate the African Union, in August 2010, to implement DotAfrica on behalf of the Member States in cooperation and partnerships with relevant stakeholders and institutions, including the preparation and the submission of the DotAfrica application to ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers).

Implications

The South Africa Node highlights that these developments could induce social, technological, and economic change:

"The effective application of the DotAfrica namespace will be dependent on the successful take-up of the new bandwidth created by the undersea cables. Hopefully this new infrastructure will assist Sub-Saharan Africa to speed up its technology-induced change, accelerate the region’s socio-economic development, stimulate competition and develop its knowledge economies."

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