New Africa-1 MEA-Asia Submarine Cable Link Confirmed

Five operators spanning Africa, the Middle East and South Central Asia will construct a new 17,000 km submarine cable system connecting the three regions.

The operators signing the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) are MTN Group, PCCW Global, Saudi Telecom Company (STC), Telecom Egypt (TE) and Telkom South Africa, with further carriers expected to join the consortium. In addition to connecting the three regions the new “Africa-1” submarine cable system will provide onward connectivity to Europe.

Between them, the members said they have access to landings at all major cable systems in the Middle East, facilitating the establishment of connections to Africa and Europe. Africa-1 will have at least a 3-fiber pair core extending more than 12,000 km along Africa’s east coast towards Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan, with up to an additional 5,000 km for branches.

“Africa is an important emerging marketplace with ever-increasing opportunities arising from the positive socio-economic developments in many African countries. STC is proud to participate in Africa-1 and looks forward to work towards its success,” said Dr. Homoud M. Alkussayer, vice president and head of wholesale business at STC. “We believe that with its effective connectivity with the rest of the world, Africa-1 can become an important enabler and contributor to the economic progress of Africa in the coming years,” Dr Alkussayer said.

Africa-1 will use the latest state-of-the-art 100G technology and will be equipped to accommodate several terabits of capacity from day one. The cable system will have comprehensive interconnection with other cable networks, as well as full Open Access at all cable landing points.

“The addressable market of African wholesale bandwidth customers is more promising than in many other regions. The weakness of the continent’s international bandwidth is due to the lack of new systems coming into Africa to enhance the competitiveness of the African market. Africa-1 system has a superior cost base and a state-of-the-art design that will enable it to be the most competitive system coming to serve this diversified market,” said Tamer Gadallah, chief executive officer (CEO) of Telecom Egypt.

The Construction and Maintenance Agreement is expected to be signed by June 2016, with a target ready for service timeframe of the third quarter of 2017.