Gambia to host launching of Europe to Africa submarine cable [New African]Al Bawaba Ltd.
The Gambia, a small state on the western tip of Africa will host the launching of one of the most ambitious telecommunications projects in Africa. On 19th December, some 500 international policy-makers, regulators, operators, vendors and service providers from across the world converged in The Gambia for the historic launching of the Africa Coast to Europe (ACE) submarine cable.
ACE, initiated by France TlcomOrange, is a consortium of 19 telecom operators from Africa and Europe under the initiative and leadership of France Telecom. The US$700 million, 17,000km long fibre optic submarine cable, will stretch from France to South Africa connecting 23 countries and thereby linking Europe to Africa through unprecedented connectivity.
Yves Ruggeri, the chairman of ACE and CEO of France Telecom, told New African magazine: "This is a historic development and milestone in the transformation and advancement of telecommunication in Africa. The system will use the most advanced high-speed broadband fibre optic technology and will be a vector of social development and economic growth in Africa, reducing the digital divide. The ACE submarine cable will connect 23 countries directly for coastal countries and indirectly through terrestrial links for landlocked countries like Mali and Niger. ACE connectivity will become a key driver of Africa's social and economic growth. "
Mr Ruggeri Telecom explained that the system has a design capacity of 5.12 Tbps and supported by the new 40 Gbps wavelength division multiplexing (WDM) technology that would accommodate futures ultra-broadband networks. He said ACE deployed the latest fibre optic technology developed by Alcatel-Lucent. Fiber optic offers better high-speed broadband Internet quality than satellite and at a lower cost. The ACE cable will extend over 17,000 km from Penmarch in Brittany, France, to Cape Town in South Africa, at depths close to 6,000 metres below sea level.
Its wavelength-division multiplexing (WDM) technology will make it possible to increase its capacity according to various needs and to the latest technological improvements by upgrading station equipment without any submarine cable modifications. With a potential capacity of 5.12 Tbps made possible by the new 40 Gbps technology, ACE will be able to evolve with new technological developments using regular upgrades. The ACE system will also facilitate connectivity with terrestrial fiber optic cables.
Mr Lamin Camara, deputy permanent secretary at The Gambia's Ministry of Information and Communication Infrastructure who is also the local ACE focal point noted that the system will allow 23 countries in Europe and Africa, including 2 landlocked countries, to own capacity. "This will give all countries in Africa the opportunity to access the international broadband network at a lower cost. This will increase highspeed Internet in Africa, thus reducing the digital divide and triggering social and economic development. For those countries, like The Gambia, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea, Liberia, Mauritania, Sao Tome & Principe and Sierra Leone, accessing submarine cable for the first time, ACE will broaden their opportunities in terms of connectivity, data-sharing and information sharing with the rest of the world," he explained.
Increasing network capacity will allow the reduction of the final subscription cost and will address the strong demand in these countries regarding the Internet and mobile networks. ACE will also promote better network reliability as well as greater flexibility. Landlocked countries such as Mali and Niger will also have access to the ACE cable system and will therefore benefit from the same increase in connectivity as the countries with a coastal access.
The 19 members of the ACE Consortium include Baharicom Development Company, Cable Consortium of Liberia, Companhia Santomense de Telecomunicacoes, Cote d'Ivoire Telecom, Expresso Telecom Group, France Telecom, Gambia Submarine Cable Company, International Mauritania Telecom, Orange Cameroun, Orange Guinee, Orange Mali, Orange Niger, PT Comunicacoes, Republic of Equatorial Guinea, Republic of Gabon, Sierra Leone Cable Company, Sonatel and Sotelgui.
Telecommunication experts say ACE will add to the portfolio of submarine cables in Africa and the world as a whole thereby complementing existing submarine cables (SAT-3/WASC/ SAFE, SEA-ME-WE.3, ATLANTIS 2, etc) and will offer the West African coastal region excellent connectivity to telecommunications networks in Europe, America and Asia. n