Kenya's Safaricom buys extra capacity in undersea cable

NAIROBI Wed Dec 4, 2013 10:09am EST

NAIROBI Dec 4 (Reuters) - Kenya's top telecoms operator Safaricom has bought extra capacity on an undersea fibre-optic cable, its CEO said on Wednesday, underscoring its need for more bandwidth as it expands in the fast-growing data segment.

Safaricom is the most heavily traded stock on the Nairobi bourse, frequently accounting for two thirds of daily traded volumes, and investors watch its non-voice services keenly because they account for just over a third of revenue.

The East African Marine Systems (TEAMS) cable, which links Kenya to the outside world through the United Arab Emirates, is partly owned by the Kenyan government and its landing in 2009 speeded up Internet connections in the east African nation.

Chief Executive Bob Collymore told Reuters the capacity purchase, which gives the firm which is partly owned by Britain's Vodafone an extra 10 percent in the cable above its original 20 percent shareholding, had been concluded because "extra capacity can always be used".

Collymore said Safaricom had paid the same as the seller, Essar Telecom's local unit Yu, had originally paid for it, without providing the exact figure.

Data is one of the fast-growing segments for Safaricom, accounting for 8 percent of total revenue of 5.47 billion shillings ($63 million) in its first half through September. ($1 = 86.8000 Kenyan shillings) (Reporting by Duncan Miriri; Editing by David Holmes)