West African ACE cable hits France

11 October 2011 | Guy Matthews

The Africa Coast to Europe (ACE) subsea cable has landed at the Penmarc’h cable station in Brittany in France, the last major economy to be connected before the system goes live in 2012.

The 17,000 km cable now extends from France down to South Africa, taking in most countries on Africa’s east coast on the way. It will provide the first ever direct international connectivity to several economies, including Gambia, Guinea, Equatorial Guinea, Liberia, Mauritania, Sao Tome and Principe and Sierra Leone. Terrestrial extensions to the cable will also bring landlocked countries such as Mali and Niger online.

ACE will provide an open source alternative to countries connected at present only to the SAT3-WASC-SAFE cable that links Portugal to Malaysia, running along the west coast of Africa. It will also diversify transmission options between its European landings in France and Portugal, say backers. Penmarc’h is a landing for Sea-Me-We 3, the world’s longest subsea cable which effectively extends ACE’s reach to south east Asia.

ACE is backed by France Telecom and a number of its African subsidiaries such as Côte d'Ivoire Telecom, Orange Cameroon, Orange Guinea, Orange Mali, Orange Niger and Sonatel. Senegalese operator Sonatel signed up to ACE in October, with Liberia finalising its investment in the project in earlier in the month.