16 January 2018
| Alan Burkitt-Gray
Huawei Marine has started marine survey work for a new subsea cable that will link Pakistan with Kenya and Djibouti.
The first phase of the cable will
be 6,800km long but the backers – Huawei Marine and
Tropic Science – are looking to extend it along the
African coast to South Africa and along the Red Sea towards
Europe, taking it to a possible 13,000km.
Huawei confirmed to Capacity today that the initial
research – which began in November – is
complete. "The marine survey – a process to verify the
initial research – is now underway. After the marine
survey will start the system installation," a Huawei official
The first phase of the cable, called Pakistan East Africa Cable
Express (Peace) is due to be ready for service early in the
fourth quarter of 2019.
It will connect Gwadar and Karachi in Pakistan with three
countries – Djibouti, Somalia and Kenya – on
the east African coast.
Huawei said that the cable will use 200Gbps DWDM technology and
will provide up to 60Tbps design capacity. "The Peace system
will provide a new information expressway for the
interconnection among Asia, Africa and Europe by connecting
with the existing land and subsea cables, greatly reducing the
route length and latency between China-Africa and
China-Europe," the company added.
He Liehui, chairman of Tropic Science, expressed his
satisfaction with the progress of the project: "Huawei Marine
has demonstrated its ability to plan and implement complex
telecoms infrastructure projects and we believe this system
will become an important infrastructure for Asian, African and
European inter-continental communications and promote economic
development of the regions."
Tropic Science appears to be a new company, but Zhejiang-born,
Shanghai-educated He Liehui is also chairman and founder of
Touchroad International Holdings, which has businesses across
Africa. According to its website Touchroad is "a multinational
business engaging in international trade, investment, cultural
exchanges, tourism, industrial park development and special
economic zone construction".
In 2016 it announced a project to build the Touchroad Djibouti
Special Economic Zone, described as "a fulcrum of
China’s Belt and Road Initiative" in Africa. The
Djibouti ambassador to China said the country, at the southern
end of the Red Sea, would become "Africa’s
Singapore and Africa’s Dubai".
Mao Shengjiang, COO of Huawei Marine, said: "When completed,
the Peace Submarine Cable System will greatly facilitate the
communication between China and Africa. I believe Huawei Marine
can efficiently deliver high-quality completion of the next
Tropic Science and Huawei Marine signed the construction
contract for the project in November 2017. The companies have
not disclosed a price for the cable project.