African mobile operators to build $400m undersea cable

Leading African mobile telecoms operators have signed a $400m pact to build an undersea fibre optic cable infrastructure that would complement the current but insufficient SAT3 in operation.

The new cable will run from the West Africa coast through the rest of Africa.

Leading operators in the pact, which include Vodacom, Telkom, MTN, Broadband Infraco and Neotel said on Sunday that they signed a deal worth more than $400m to build a 5.1Tb cable to land in as many African countries on the West Coast as possible.

The new venture is expected to increase the already emerging competition in the undersea cable business.

Due to dissatisfaction with NITEL-owned SAT-3, the only undersea cable serving most of the countries in West coast of Africa, a number of new ventures had started to provide alternative services. Among these ventures are Infinity Cable, promoted by Infinity Worldwide Group, based in Granada; MainOne Cable, promoted by MainStreet Communications Nigeria and Glo-1, a project of Globacom Nigeria.

The new joint venture will enter into negotiations with the representative telecommunications operators.

In some countries, the participants already have landing rights such as those that have already been granted to Telkom and MTN by Nigeria.

Details of the deal, which was put together in a memorandum of understanding, signed by all the parties, said that the new infrastructure would be code-named “Cable-X”.

This will ensure international connectivity, reduce costs of bandwidth while savings are passed on to consumers.

Using the traditional telecommunications model, the financial structure will see all parties contribute an equal amount to the project. This will give them an equal share of the capacity.

The cable is expected to be renamed and three alternatives were presented at Sunday’s meeting.

Source: The Punch