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Submarine Telecoms Industry Report shines light on Africa

July 19, 2012  »  BroadbandOne Comment

We recently 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 international Internet bandwidth in Sub-Saharan Africa is 300 Gbps as of 2012. The design capacity of systems in service as of year-end will be 15 Tbps on Africa’s west coast and 7.5 Tbps on its east coast. (10)
  • In Africa, only Somalia (including Somaliland), Saint Helena, Ascension Island, and Tristan da Cunha lack international fiber optic connectivity as of mid-2012. (14)
  • From 2008 to 2012 four-fifths of global projects were financed by carriers (either alone, in small groups, or in large consortia) as private investors remained cautious. Governments and development financial institutions increased their share of funding to 5 percent of all projects. (23)
  • Until 2009, Sub-Saharan Africa was served by only two fiber optic systems: SAT-2 and SAT-3. (46)
  • Good news: Although the design capabilities of sub-Saharan Africa’s submarine cable systems will greatly exceed demand for the foreseeable future, the dynamics of the African telecommunications market allow it to support multiple submarine cable projects. (47)
  • The complexities of the African market make the commoditization of international capacity in the region unlikely. (48)
  • Given adequate funding, four cables will potentially connect Africa to South America in 2014: ACSea, BRICS, SAex, WASACE (48)

Conclusion: 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.