The European Investment Bank (EIB) has provided a EUR8 million (USD11 million) loan to the Seychelles Cable Systems Company (SCS) for the installation and operation of the island nation’s first international submarine fibre-optic cable. The planned 1,930km cable will link the main island of Mahe to the existing Eastern Africa Submarine System (EASSy) in Tanzania, and is expected to be operational by the second half of 2012, according to a report on Afriquejet.com. The project will also benefit from a EUR4 million 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. The EUR27 million overall project cost will be financed through 40% equity and 60% 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. SCS executive Benjamin Choppy – who is also permanent secretary for ICT in the Seychelles – signed the deal with the EIB, which he called a key milestone for the project, and stressed that the cable will dramatically improve voice telephony and internet access in the Seychelles, with international transmission capacity predicted to be seven times cheaper than current prices. The EIB previously supported the EASSy project to connect 20 coastal and landlocked countries in East and Southern Africa using a high bandwidth undersea fibre-optic cable and terrestrial links.
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