The West Africa Cable System (WACS), the latest in a new generation of high-capacity submarine communications cables linking Africa to the rest of the world, is set to land at its final destination in Yzerfontein near Cape Town, South Africa in the next couple of weeks. This follows the completion of the Portugal-UK section of the cable in February.
The cable, the product of a consortium of companies including Gateway Communications, Angola Telecom and Telkom South Africa, has a 5.12 Tbit/s capacity, making it substantially faster than the celebrated SEACOM cable with its 1.28 Tbit/s design capacity. The speed of the WACS cable is such that one could theoretically download about eight million MP3 files or over eight thousand DVDs per minute.
“The African continent is definitely one of the continents still yearning for affordable connectivity,” said Kobus Stoeder, Chairman of the WACS Management Committee. “Meeting the needs for increased capacity along the cable route, this network will enable the landing countries to be served by a new system offering greater capacity and lowering the cost of broadband access in support of innovative applications such as e-education and e-health that can positively impact peoples’ lives.”
The 14 000km, US$600-million, cable system is being built by Alcatel-Lucent Submarine Networks, and the construction phase is set to be completed by April 10th. WACS will connect Namibia, Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Republic of Congo, Cameroon, Nigeria, Togo, Ghana, and Côte d’Ivoire, to Portugal and the United Kingdom. Significantly, this is the first time Togo, Namibia, the Republic of Congo, and the Democratic Republic of Congo will be connected to a global submarine network.
Originally planned for commercial launch in Q3 2011, a delay means WACS will only become operational in Q1 2012. Once the construction phase in completed this month, the testing phase will commence.
By Angela Meadon