Africa-1 consortium sign C&MA for new cable system

04 January 2019 | Natalie Bannerman

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The consortium for Africa-1, a new submarine cable system linking South Africa, the Middle East, Pakistan and Europe, have signed a Construction and Maintenance Agreement (C&MA) for the new system.

Comprised of Saudi Telecom, MTN Group, Telecom Egypt, Telkom South Africa, PCCW Global, Etisalat, the consortium met on 11 December in Dubai to sign the agreement.

The 20,000km system is due to go live in early 2021, with carrier-neutral points of presence (PoPs) in Marseille (France), Mombasa (Kenya) and Durban (South Africa). In addition, the new cable will also feature cable-landing stations at Sidi-Krir and Zaafarana in Egypt, Port Sudan in Sudan, Jeddah in Saudi Arabia, Djibouti City in Djibouti, Mogadishu in Somalia, Mombasa in Kenya, Mayotte, Mahajanga in Madagascar, Fujairah in the UAE, and Karachi in Pakistan.

“We believe strongly in the potential success of this project due to the strength of our partners," said Marc Halbfinger, chief executive officer of PCCW Global. "All are major telecommunications service providers who are committed to their customers and have strong records of success. We view Africa-1 as a natural extension to facilitate the increasing capacity demands of the Asia-Africa trade corridor with better levels of reliability to connect people and business in the world’s fast growing economies.”

News of the cable being greenlit for development was made back in 2016 when MTN Group, PCCW Global, Saudi Telecom Company (STC), Telecom Egypt and Telekom South Africa entered into a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to construct the new system.

At the time, the news was met with some reservations from local telcos. Chris Wood, chief executive officer of African connectivity wholesaler WIOCC and co-chair of the EASSy consortium, told Fin24 that Africa has enough broadband capacity and deemed the project “totally unnecessary”.

“Africa is an important emerging marketplace with ever-increasing opportunities arising from the positive socio-economic developments in many African countries,” said Homoud M. Alkussayer, vice president and head of wholesale business unit of 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.”

Back in March 2018, Capacity spoke to Alan Whelan, STC’s vice president of wholesale about the company’s vision for the future, during which Whelan said: “STC is currently engaged in advanced discussion with other parties in relation to other projects such as Africa-1.”

To read the full interview please click here.