Submarine cable activity seems to be far from slowing down in Africa. In fact plans for two more cables, one connecting France and Tunisia and one involving the ECOWAS region, have recently been announced.
French operator Orange has announced a plan to build a subsea cable linking the cities of Bizerte in Tunisia and Marseille in France. The new 1,050 kilometre-long infrastructure will provide an additional route of several fibre pairs with a capacity of 20 terabits each. It is scheduled to be commissioned by the end of 2025. The project is to be co-financed by the European Commission.
This news is by no means unexpected. In 2013, Orange invested in a cable connecting Tunisia and Europe by signing an investment-sharing agreement with Ooredoo.
Nor is Orange alone in making such plans. In October 2022, Ooredoo Tunisia signed a partnership agreement with PCCW Global to connect to the PEACE submarine cable, which is scheduled to be commissioned in 2024.
Meanwhile, the Amilcar Cabral submarine line, originally meant to join only Guinea and Cape Verde, may be extended after Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia and Sierra Leone joined the project and signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU).
The ECOWAS Commission will organize the project’s implementation by talking to beneficiary countries, donors, and other interested parties. A Ministerial Steering Committee and a Committee of Experts have been set up.
The Amilcar Cabral submarine cable development project began in October 2018 and it’s not clear how this MoU will change its development, but a statement from a Sierra Leonean minister suggests that the cable will “not only provide a backlink for our existing unique submarine cables, but it will also help increase broadband penetration in member countries and promote regional integration through digital communications and e-commerce facilities, making it easier to create a single digital market in the ECOWAS region”.