October 11, 2007 / 10:41 AM / 12 years ago

Kenya awards Alcatel-Lucent undersea cable deal

(Adds details, background)

NAIROBI, Oct 11 (Reuters) - Kenya has awarded an $82 million contract to Paris-based Alcatel-Lucent ALUA.PA to build a submarine telecoms cable linking its coast and the United Arab Emirates, an information ministry official said on Thursday.

“We are looking forward to formally sign the contract 14 days from Monday and after that, we can push them to complete it as fast as possible,” Bitange Ndemo, permanent secretary in the information ministry told a press conference.

Five firms had qualified to bid for the project known, as The East African Marine Systems (TEAMS), which will link the port city of Mombasa with Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates and could be the region’s first submarine telecoms link with the rest of the world.

Alcatel-Lucent’s chief executive for the region, Laurent Guyot, said TEAMS would complete before another initiative to construct a regional cable to Durban in South Africa known as Eastern Africa Submarine Systems (EASSy).

“TEAMS will be ready before EASSy because EASSy is more complex and requires more time,” he said.

Ndemo said the project would take up to 16 months and he hoped it would be finished by the second quarter of 2009.

Kenya’s government would hold a 40 percent stake in the cable while Abu Dhabi’s Etisalat ETEL.AD would hold 15 percent.

Neighbouring states were welcome to invest in the remaining 45 percent stake, but if they were not interested, it would be open for Kenyans looking for investment opportunities in the telecoms industry.

Kenya hopes to latch onto the lucrative call centre outsourcing industry but expensive bandwidth costs has held it back.

Ndemo said the cable would slash bandwidth costs to $400 per megabyte from the current $7,000.

((Reporting by Wangui Kanina, editing by Quentin Bryar, nairobi.newsroom@reuters.com, +254 20 222 4717)) Keywords: KENYA TELECOMS/

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