Subsea Cables Connecting West Coast of Africa

 

There are now the following submarine cable systems connecting West Cost of Africa to Asia, Europe and South America.

Cables connecting West Coast of Africa to Europe:

Cables connecting West Coast of Africa to South America:

Cables connecting West Coast of Africa to Asia:

Regional cables in West Coast of Africa

  • NCSCS
  • GLO-1
  • Ceiba-2

 

African Undersea CablesAfrican Undersea Cables, by Steve SongMany Possibilities

The West Africa Cable System (WACS) is a 14530km submarine cable system connecting 15 countries, starting from South Africa and ending in London.

The WACS consists of four fibre pairs. It was initially designed with 128 wavelengths per fiber pair, running at 10 Gbps per wavelength, and initial design capacity of 5.12 Tbps. The initial investment of WACS is about US$650million.

WACS Initial Configuration:

  • 4 fibre pairs linking South Africa (SA) to Portugal, with landings in several intermediate countries and an extension Segment to the United Kingdom (UK) and London Point of Presence (Global Switch)
  • 40Gbps wavelengths deployment on the segment between Portugal and United Kingdom from first day of operation.
  • Express fibre pair – interconnect SA, Portugal, and UK through to London PoP  (Global Switch).
  • Semi-express 1 fibre pair – interconnect SA, Nigeria, and UK through to London.
  • Semi-express 2 fibre pair – interconnect SA, Angola, Democratic Repubblic of Congo, Ivory Coast and UK through to London.
  • Omnibus Fibre pair – interconnect SA, Namibia, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Republic of Congo, Cameroon, Nigeria, Togo, Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Cape Verde, Canary Islands, Portugal, UK through to London.

WACS system delivers a round trip delay (RTD) of 138.5 ms between Yzerfontein CLS in South Africa to Highbridge CLS in the UK.  

The Yzerfontein CLS in Western Cape Town serves an alternative international submarine gateway othar than the Melkbosstrand CLS in Western Cape Town, South Africa. Telkom South Africa is the landing party and owner of the  Yzerfontein CLS.

WACS Cable System Connectivity

The WACS landing Parties are: Telkom (South Africa), Telecom Namibia (Namibia), Angola cables (Angola), OCPT (Democratic Republic of Congo), Congo Telecom (Congo), Camtel (Cameroon, acquired from MTN Cameroon), MTN (Nigeria), Togo Telecom (Togo), MTN (Ghana), MTN (Ivory Coast), PTC (Cape Verde), Vodacom Group (Canary Islands), Tata Communications (Portugal), Tata Communications (UK), Cable and Wireless (London PoP).

WACS was supplied by ASN, and completed in 2012. The total cost of WACS is approximately US$650 million. It is reported that MTN owns 11% of the initial capacity of the WACS with an investment of US$90 million.

In May 2015, Huawei Marine completed an upgrade of WACS (Upgrade I) using 100Gbps technology, increasing the WACS system design capacity to 14.5Tbit/s.

In Feb 2019, the WACS Upgrade II was completed with Huawei Marine's solutions to support 32*100Gbps from South Africa to Portugal.

MainOne cable system is a 7,000km submarine cable with landing stations in Nigeria, Ghana and Portugal, with reserved branching units Morocco, Canary Islands, Senegal and Ivory Coast.

MainOne cable system is the first private subsea cable along the West African coastline, owned by MainOne Cable Company based in Nigeria. MainOne began the construction project in February 2008 and launched for commercial service in 2010. MainOne cable system was supplied by TE SubCom.

MainOne cable system has been proven to provide capacity of at least 4.96 Tbps.

MainOne cable is able to interconnect with SEACOM and other international cables from Seixal in Portugal, and extend to MainOne PoP at Telehouse North, London, via Tata Communications’ European and Transatlantic networks.

In September 2018, Orange announced to invest in the MainOne cable system, constructing two new branches and stations connecting the MainOne cable to Dakar in Senegal and Abidjan in the Côte d’Ivoire.

 

Equiano cable system is the third private international cable owned by Google and the 14th subsea cable invested by Google

Equiano connects Portugal and South Africa, running along the West Coast of Africa, with branching units along the way that can be used to extend connectivity to additional African countries. The first branch is expected to land in Nigeria. 

Named for Olaudah Equiano, a Nigerian-born writer and abolitionist who was enslaved as a boy, the Equiano cable is state-of-the-art infrastructure based on space-division multiplexing (SDM) technology, with approximately 20 times more network capacity than the last cable built to serve this region. The SDM technology was first deployed in Google's second private subsea cable, Dunant.

Equiano will be the first subsea cable to incorporate optical switching at the fiber-pair level, rather than the traditional approach of wavelength-level switching.

A contract to build the Equiano cable with Alcatel Submarine Networks was signed in Q4 2018, and the first phase of the project, connecting South Africa with Portugal, is expected to be completed in 2021.

Equiano Cable Map
Equiano’s planned route and branching units, Source: Google

 

Simba is a multi-stage subsea cable project led by Facebook. Its goal is to connect the entire continent of Africa to the internet, increasing accessibility while also driving down bandwidth prices significantly, which could make it easier to sign up new users. And it could be a major disruption to the current service provider model. 

In May 2020, Facebook announced its partnership with leading African and global operators to build 2Africa submarine cable system. It means Simba cable system has been rebranded as 2Africa.

The South Atlantic Telecommunications cable no.3 (SAT-3) is a 13000km submarine cable connecting South Africa, West Africa, to Europe. The SAT-3 cable system has a toltal capacity of 120Gbps, ready for service in 2001.

The earlier SAT-2 had been brought into service in the early 1990s and SAT-1 was constructed in the 1960s.

The SAT-3 is also known as the West African Submarine Cable (WASC), commonly called SAT-3/WASC. The SAT-3/WASC interconnects with the SAFE cable system at the Melkbosstrand cable landing station in South Africa, forming a cable link commonly known as SAT-3/WASC/SAFE.

The SAT-3/WASC and the West Africa Cable System (WACS) are most important international subsea cables in West Coast of Africa. The WACS lands at the Yzerfontein CLS in Western Cape Town, the SAT-3/WASC lands at the Melkbosstrand CLS in Western Cape Town, South Africa, forming alternative gateways to South Africa.

The SAT-3/WASC consortium comprises 36 telecom operators. The largest three investors in SAT-3/WASC were (in order) TCI, a subsidiary of AT&T (U.S.A.); France Telecom (France); and VSNL (India, Singapore). The 11 African shareholders are (in alphabetical order): Angola Telecom, Camtel, Cote d'Ivoire Telecom, Ghana Telecom, Maroc Telecom, Nitel, OPT Benin, OPT Gabon, Sonatel, Telecom Namibia and Telkom SA Ltd. There are also Asian shareholders.

Although Telecom Namibia holds ownership in SAT-3/WASC, Namibia has no landing point.

The SAT3 / WASC lands at the following cable landing stations:

  • Chipiona, Spain
  • Altavista, Gran Canaria, Spain
  • Sesimbra, Portugal
  • Dakar, Senegal
  • Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire
  • Accra, Ghana
  • Cotonou, Benin
  • Lagos, Nigeria
  • Douala, Cameroon
  • Libreville, Gabon
  • Cacuaco, Angola
  • Melkbosstrand, South Africa

 

SAT-3/WASC/SAFE

The Africa Coast to Europe (ACE) submarine cable spans 12,000 km along the west coast of Africa, connecting 18 countries including France, Portugal, the Canary Islands (Spain), Mauritania, Senegal, Gambia, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Côte d’Ivoire, Benin, Ghana, Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, São Tomé and Príncipe, Mali and Niger (ACE Phase I).

Seven of these African countries – The Gambia, Guinea, Equatorial Guinea, Liberia, Mauritania, Sao Tomé & Principe and Sierra Leone – benefit for the first time from a direct connection to a submarine cable. Two landlocked countries, Mali and Niger, connect to the ACE cable system through terrestrial network extensions.

The ACE Phase II will add 5000 km cable connecting Cameroon, Nambia, Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Congo-Brazzaville and South Africa

The ACE consortium comprises France TelecomOrange, together with its subsidiaries Côte d’Ivoire Telecom, Orange Cameroon, Orange Mali, Orange Niger and Sonatel, have combined forces with other major partners to form an international consortium.

The ACE cable system costs a total investment of around U$700 million, with around $250 million financed by Orange group and its subsidiaries.

The ACE cable system consists of two fiber pairs, with a design capacity of 5.12 Tbps using 40 Gbps DWDM technology.

The ACE cable system (Phase I) was ready for service in December 2012, supplied by ASN.

 

ACE Cable System

The Nigeria-Cameroon Submarine Cable System (NCSCS) is a 1100km submarine cable connecting Kribi in Cameroon with Lagos in Nigeria.

The NCSCS cable system consists of two fiber pair, delivering 12.8 Tbps.

The NCSCS cable system forms part of Cameroon’s strategic plan for building a National Broadband Network. The NCSCS cable system is owned and operated by Cameroon Telecommunications Corporation (CAMTEL), the monopoly international and backbone network operator in Cameroon.

CAMTEL partners with MainOne of Nigeria to land the NCSCS cable at Lagos Cable Landing Station which also houses the MainOne Cable System. Through the MainOne Cable System, the NCSCS cable system can be extended to Europe and other coutries in West Africa.

The NCSCS cable system was supplied by Huawei Marine, completed in September 2015.

The Globacom-1 (Glo-1) submarine cable system is a 9800km submarine cable connecting Bude in UK to Lagos in Nigeria and the rest of West Africa. It has landing points in Nigeria, London, Lisbon in Portugal, Accra in Ghana, etc. 

The Glo-1 cable system consists of 2 fibre pairs, with an initial design capacity of 320 (32*STM-64), and upgraded to 2.5Tbps. 

The Glo-1 cable system is owned and operated by Globacom Limited of Nigeria, supplied by ASN with a total cost of about $250 million.

The Glo-1 cable landed in Alfa Beach, Lagos in Nigeria in September 2009, the whole project completed in July 2010. Globacom activated the Glo-1 cable system for service in October 2010.

The Ceiba-2 Submarine Cable Systemednesday is a 500km submarine cable connecting Malabo and Bata in Equatorial Guinea, with a branching unit to Kribi in Cameroon, with a design capacity of 8 Tbps, in operation since March 2017.

The Ceiba-2 is owned and operated by the Manager of Telecommunications Infrastructure of Equatorial Guinea (GITGE, El Gestor de Infraestructuras de Telecomunicaciones de Guinea Ecuatorial), supplied by Huawei Marine. 

The construction of Ceiba-2 started in October 2015 and was completed in March 2017, equipped with an initial 40 Gbps lambda system and is scalable to a 100 Gbps lambda system to meet future demand.

According to GITGE, Ceiba-2 cable system is an invaluable redundancy for the country. Equatorial Guinea is already connected to Ceiba-1, which connects Malabo to Bata, and ACE Cable.

The Ceiba-2 cable system also allows the ACE submarine cable to be interconnected with Cameroon, since the Ceiba-2 and ACE submarine stations in Bata are located next to each other and are interconnected with direct fiber optics.

 

 Ceiba-2 Cable Route

The Senegal Horn of Africa Regional Express (SHARE) Cable is a 720km submarine cable from the African continent to the offshore islands of Cape Verde, connecting Dakar in Senegal and Praia in Cape Verde.

The SHARE cable system has a design capacity of 16Tbit/s.

There are now ACE (Africa Coast to Europe), MainOneSAT-3/WASC and Atlantis-2 landing in Dakar, Senagal, 

There are Atlantis-2, WACS (West Africa Cable System) and Ellalink and other domestic submarine cables landing in Praia, Cape Verde

Relying on Cape Verde's existing resources of international cables to Europe, South America and other regions, the delivery of the SHARE cable system will introduce new international bandwidth routes to the African continent, greatly improving the total international export bandwidth of Senegal and other regions of West Africa.

 

The SHARE cable system will promote the development of the ICT Hub position of Senegal in West Africa and accelerate the development of the digital economy and innovative economy in the region.

The SHARE cable system is supplied by Huawei Marine and is expected to be completed in Q1, 2021.