Could BRICS get an undersea cable?


While the SEACOM and WACS undersea cables have been operational for some time, and provide Africa with much-needed bandwidth, investors have expressed a keen interest in developing an undersea broadband cable that would link the BRICS nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) to the US.

Undersea cables have reduced the cost of access around the continent (image: WACS)

“There have been many parties showing interest in the BRICS cable project. To date, a total of ten non-disclosure agreements have been signed by global and South African telecommunication operators,” i3 Africa chairman Andrew Mthembu told Sapa.

Mthembu said that the project is still in the planning stages, but declined to say who will be involved in the cable system.  “The process… is ongoing and more parties are expected to join the project. At this stage, we prefer not to disclose the names of the interested parties.”

The cable system will run for 34,000km with 12.8 terabits per second capacity, and when it becomes operational, is expected to be live in 2014.

The fiber-optic cable system will link the West Africa Cable System, the Eastern Africa Submarine Cable System and Seacom together, and will span from Miami in the US, to Fortaleza in Brazil, Cape Town, Mauritius, Chennai in India, Singapore, Shantou in China and Vladivostok in Russia.

“It will enable closer inter-working among the BRICS countries and stimulate trade and investment. The new routes… will lead to improvements in the connectivity to the rest of the world and in the resiliency of communication,” Mthembu added.

The project cost was estimated at between US1.2 billion and US1.5 billion (between about R9.96 billion and R12.45 billion).

Charlie Fripp – Consumer Tech editor