East Africa is poised to have three undersea fibre optic cables, which will transform technological services in the region. The privately funded SEACOM cable is now complete and was launched in July 2009.

East Africa common market

East African countries switched to an elusive customs union by making similar provisions and tax exemptions in various sectors along with improved investment in the technology sector. Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania read their annual budgets on the same day, with emphasis on investment in technology and commitment to greater East African cooperation. Kenya made the most significant allowances to operators in the fibre optic cable as the wearand- tear allowances on telecommunication equipment, including the fibre optic cable, increased from 12.5 per cent to 20 per cent. Tanzania, Rwanda and Uganda also followed Kenya by zero rating importation of computers, video cameras and other accessories.

With the landing of the East Africa Marine Cable System and SEACOM, the region is expecting improved communication and trade relations because the cable will open up access to Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi, which are landlocked.

Key African trade routes to be upgraded

More than US$1 billion has been pledged by international donors for the upgrade of transport links across East and Southern Africa. The North-South Corridor initiative aims to get goods to market faster and cheaper with improved infrastructure and more efficient border crossings. The project will remove red tape and oversee the upgrade of 8,000 km of road and 600 km of rail track. The project also aims to raise the living standard of millions of people. The money will come from the World Bank, international development agencies and the private sector. The cooperation of eight African countries – Tanzania, DRC, Zambia, Malawi, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and South Africa – is needed for the project to be successful.