Becoming a digital powerhouse: Djibouti now has 11 undersea cables, making it one of the best-connected countries in Africa and with its data centre, it is well on its way to becoming a regional digital hub.

 
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In January, the Djibouti Africa Regional Express 1 (DARE1) undersea cable, which links the countries on Africa's east coast, made landfall at Siesta Beach in Djibouti. Maritime operations are underway, and are expected to be completed in March 2020, with DARE1 coming into service in June.

This 5,400km cable will link Djibouti, Mogadishu, Mombasa and Bosaso, offering a throughput of up to 30 TB/sec. In preparation for DARE2, which will link Dar es Salaam and Maputo, DARE1 will also be connected to the global network through a number of cables in Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

This interconnection project will be operated jointly by a partnership of regional operators including Djibouti Telecom (80%), Somalia's Somtel and Kenya's Telkom.

The Islamic Development Bank will cover 60% of its $100m price tag.

"We're very keen to extend DARE 1 to new regions and connect it with other cables to improve accessibility in Africa and throughout the world," explained Mohamed Assoweh Bouh, Director-General of Djibouti Telecom. "It offers competetive costs for interconnections and internet traffic between Djibouti, Somalia and Kenya, as well as opportunities for skill development and training. This cable system is a crucial tool for East African development."

Per capita, the most connected area in the world

Djibouti expects to play a key role in this development. It already has 11 local and international undersea cables, including Gulf Bridge International (GBI), Transcontinental Europe India Gateway (EIG), EASSy, SEACOM, SEA-ME-WE 3, the regional Aden-Djibouti cable, AAE-1 and SEA-MEWE 5, making it the most-connected area in the world on a per capita basis.

As the government works to turn digitalisation into a motor of development, Djibouti looks towards a future as a regional internet hub. Djibouti Telecom is looking to play a big part. As the only operator on the national market, the company has taken on the role of being, in the words of its Director General, "the base of operations" for undersea cables designed to connect the country to Europe.

He expects the company's turnover to rise from $120m in 2018 to $400m in 2025. As part of the company's strategy, it invested in the Australia West Express cable system in 2017. Following its memorandum of understanding with...

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