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Industry report shines light on African undersea cables

June 14, 2013  »  Broadband4 Comments

Last year, we came across first edition of the Submarine Telecoms Industry Report, a new resource for the latest in global undersea telecommunications news and outlooks. The annual report provides a snapshot of the state of the many sectors within the 150+ year-old industry. In addition, the publication helps others recognize how important undersea fibre optic communication cables are to the global economy.

Beautifully enough, the report is written at a level for everyone to understand. Quite a few sections mention the past, present, and future of African fibre optic cables. Notably:

  • Total lit capacity in Sub-Saharan African submarine cable systems has increased by 71% annually over the last five years. (59)
  • Challenges facing the African wholesale capacity market: limited fixed broadband deployment compared to other markets, slow growth of mobile Internet (still mostly 2G), strong control over terrestrial backhaul segments limits submarine capacity distribution. (60)
  • Proposed SSA cable systems: Atlantic Cable System-Africa, BRICS Cable, South Atlantic Cable System, South Atlantic Express, WASACE South. (61)
  • Additional opportunities for undersea investment exist where only one fibre optic undersea cable serves the markets of Republic of the Congo, DR Congo, Equatorial Guinea, The Gambia, Guinea, Liberia, Mauritania, Namibia, and Sierra Leone. (73)

The outlook for African submarine cables is very favorable given the profitability of national telecommunications operators. The main challenge continues to be deploying local fibre networks that are able to connect international capacity to national backbones, and in turn, last mile fibre to the home.

Source: “Submarine Telecoms Industry Report, Issue 2,” Terabit Consulting, Submarine Telecoms Forum, Inc., March 2013.

  • stevesong

    I am curious. In the above you say:

    “More good news: The complexities of the African market make the commoditization of international capacity in the region unlikely. (48)”

    How is this in any way good news? And where did you read this in the report or what other evidence are you referring to? Thanks.

  • Hi Steve,

    Thank you for pointing out the errors here (which are a couple). For one, this post mistakenly combined information from the 2012 report and 2013 report. That has been fixed; the section about commoditization is then from a post I created last year.

    The issue you cited has to do with a section from page 47-48 of the 2012 report (

    The final paragraph of page 47 seemed to group favorably a couple of points (investor-led systems vs. consortium-led, commitments from operators before construction, limited impact of bankruptcies of African cables vs. Atlantic). The next sentence reads, “Furthermore, the complexities of the African market make the commoditization of international capacity in the region unlikely.” At the time, I was misled by the series of points and failed to adequately edit the citation.

    The posts have since been remedied.

    Thanks again,

  • stevesong

    Hi Tim. Thanks for the clarification. And while I’m here let me say how much I appreciate OAfrica. You are an invaluable resource on access in Africa that I refer to time and time again.

  • I try to cover subjects and countries that get less attention. It sometimes gets tricky as I often write & research late at night, but so far so good…

    Also, I really enjoy your site as well, especially the recent posts on white spaces spectrum!