Marine survey starts for 60Tbps Kenya-Pakistan subsea cable

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 said.

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 stage.”

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.

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