Egypt ‘to be Africa’s data gateway’, says CEO of Telecom Egypt at Capacity North Africa

17 April 2019 | Alan Burkitt-Gray

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Egypt is poised to become the African hub and the gateway to Africa, says the CEO of Telecom Egypt, opening a Capacity conference.

Adel Hamed (pictured), who took over the leadership of Telecom Egypt earlier this year, opened the Capacity North Africa conference in Cairo with a declaration that the company and Egypt itself could be the key hub for Africa.

Other speakers at the inaugural conference testified to the importance of Egypt’s potential. Nagui Anis Khalil, vice president of strategy and planning at Fiber Misr, pointed the delegates southwards from the vital Red Sea-Mediterranean connection that is vital to the world’s networks.

He said that Egypt “is the second country in the world in terms of submarine cable connections”, but “we need to transform from just transit and build upon these cables. North Africa needs more internet exchanges and data centres to keep content in Africa.”

He called for Alexandria, on Egypt’s Mediterranean coast, to become a data centre hub comparable wit Marseille. The electricity supply “has doubled in Egypt in the last four years”, he said. “We have a 35% surplus. It is not the cheapest in the world, but it is reliable. We have all the factors for a data centre business.”

In a separate presentation, Mohamed Nasr, vice president of cable innovation at PCCW Global, told the Capacity North Africa conference that the new PEACE cable, linking Pakistan with east Africa and Europe, was “one of the fastest cables I’ve ever worked on”. The PEACE cable project announced on day one of the conference that Cybernet would land the cable in Pakistan, and Nasr said that Interxion was providing facilities in Marseille and Icolo in Kenya.

Meanwhile Mohamed Ahmed Mohamed, director of international business at Djibouti Telecom, told the conference that the company will start laying the $86 million DARE1 – Djibouti Africa Regional Express – cable in October 2019, aiming for service in June 2020.

It will have four landing stations between Djibouti and Kenya, in order to cater for growing international traffic.

Guillaume Perdriaud, chief wholesale and international officer at Inwi, the Moroccan operator, agreed about the importance of building infrastructure into Africa. “The very strong story is about unloading the capabilities inland, across Africa. We need to build the future,” he told the conference.