Dar es Salaam, Tanzania – The European Investment Bank (EIB) announced here Friday an 8 million-euro loan to the Seychelles Cable Systems Company (SCS) for the installation and operation of the first sub-marine fibre optic cable for international connections, according to Plutarchos Sakellaris, the EIB Vice President for Africa, Caribbean and Pacific lending operations. Sakellaris said the connections would cover a distance of 1,930 kilometres, stretching from the main island of Mahé to the existing Eastern Africa Submarine Cable System in Tanzania.
The fibre optic link, expected to be operational by the second half of 2012, will dramatically improve both telecommunications and internet access in the Seychelles, with international transmission capacity estimated at being seven times cheaper than current prices.
Direct cable-based internet links will enable improved healthcare and education links, enhance job opportunities and are expected to slow down the emigration of skilled citizens of the west Indian Ocean island republic.
“The Seychelles to East Africa Sub-marine Cable will bridge the digital divide and enable much cheaper communications than current satellite links. This project demonstrates EIB’s commitment to supporting internet access essential for companies and communities in the 21st century,” Sakellaris said.
Sakellaris and the SCS vice chairman, Benjamin Choppy, signed the submarine cable project loan during a high-level official visit to the Seychelles by the EIB.
Choppy, who is also the permanent secretary responsible for ICT in Seychelles, remarked that the signature of the loan agreement for the financing of the Seychelles East Africa System (SEAS) was a key milestone for the project and that the project itself would bring a quantum leap in the development of the ICT sector in Seychelles.
The project will also benefit from a 4 million-euro grant from the EU-Africa Infrastructure Trust Fund to support shareholding in the project by the Seychelles government.
A statutory dividend from this equity stake will be used to provide free internet access for schools, libraries, hospitals and other social development-related services.
Meanwhile, Seychelles VicePresident Danny Faure, stated: “The signing of the financing agreement with EIB for the construction of SEAS will bring us closer to achieving the government’s objective of ensuring that the Seychellois people have access to high speed communication at affordable prices.
‘This in turn will allow the country to reap the full benefits of broadband. The decision by EIB to co-finance this project is yet another testimony of the confidence that our international partners, in particular financial institutions, have in the economy of Seychelles.”
The 27 million-euro overall project cost will be financed through 40 percent equity and 60 percent debt, the EIB said.
Long-term debt will be co-financed equally by the EIB and the African Development Bank, and equity contributions split between three shareholders — the Government of Seychelles, Cable and Wireless Seychelles and Airtel.
The European Investment Bank has previously supported the Eastern Africa Submarine Cable System initiative to connect 20 coastal and landlocked countries in East and Southern Africa using a high bandwidth undersea fibre optic cable and terrestrial link to the rest of the world.
Source – Afrique en ligne