The European Investment Bank (EIB) announced the singature at the Global Gateway Forum 2023 of a EUR40 million investment grant provided by the European Commission on the the €342 “MEDUSA” submarine cable project. The agreement was signed between the European Commission, the European Investment Bank (EIB), GÉANT as the coordinator of the European National Research and Education Network, and AFR-IX who will be executing the “MEDUSA” submarine cable project, which is the EC’s first digital Global Gateway project, aiming to connect North Africa and the European Union with a high-capacity fiber optic submarine cable system.
The signature is an additional important step in the concrete implementation of MEDUSA, following the announcement of cooperation in November 2022, and the recent signing of a Contribution Agreement between the European Commission and the European Investment Bank to provide EUR 40 million from the Neighbourhood Investment Platform to this high-speed digital connection initiative.
These agreements, which are part of the Economic and Investment Plan for the Southern Neighbourhood, are also a tangible expression of Europe’s Global Gateway strategy to boost smart, clean and secure digitalisation, while enhancing prosperity and security within and beyond Europe.
The “MEDUSA” project, developed by AFR-IX telecom and manufactured by Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN), will be the Mediterranean’s most extensive submarine cable initiative to date. Stretching over 7,100 km, this state-of-the-art, high-capacity optical-fibre submarine cable will connect both shores of the Mediterranean Sea. The project is expected to be operational between 2025 and early 2026, with a design life of 25 years.
MEDUSA will be a true gamechanger, as for the first time it will offer a long term connectivity solution for Algeria, Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia; through the EC’s grant investment it is set to provide end-to-end connectivity at an access capacity of 200Gbps via submarine cable and direct terrestrial links to universities and research centres in the North African countries. Furthermore, MEDUSA will foster ties with EU peer organisations, alleviate the digital divide, and enhance scientific knowledge exchange, hence boosting innovation, research and job creation in the region.
GÉANT is Europe’s leading collaboration on network and related infrastructure and services for the benefit of research and education, contributing to Europe’s economic growth and competitiveness. The organisation develops, delivers and promotes advanced network and associated e-infrastructure services, and supports innovation and knowledge-sharing amongst its members, partners and the wider research and education networking community.
GÉANT’s involvement in MEDUSA will build on the experience of the successful BELLA Programme, the pathfinder initiative that co-funded the EllaLink submarine cable and directly connected Europe and Latin America for the first time, and on GÉANT’s ongoing investment programme to refresh and expand its Intercontinental Connectivity delivered via the GN5-IC1 project.
For over 20 years, GÉANT has been working in the Mediterranean in partnership with the European Commission and in conjunction with the Arab regional organisation ASREN- through the EUMEDCONNECT and AfricaConnect projects – to catalyse national NREN partners and their national infrastructures, connect North African countries to the pan-European GÉANT network, enabling international collaborative R&E. However, due to difficult market conditions and obsolete subsea cables, connectivity between the two shores of the Mediterranean had to rely on short term low-capacity leases, resulting in higher costs and connectivity constraints for the region.
EIB Global is the EIB Group’s specialised arm dedicated to operations outside the EU and a key partner of the EU’s Global Gateway strategy. EIG Global aims to support at least €100 billion of investment by the end of 2027, around one third of the overall target of Global Gateway. Within Team Europe, EIB Global fosters strong, focused partnerships alongside fellow development finance institutions, and civil society.
The Global Gateway Forum brings together for the first time an assembly of government representatives from the European Union and across the globe, alongside key stakeholders from the private sector, civil society, thought leaders, financial institutions, and international organisations to promote global investment in transformative infrastructure – hard and soft- to deliver on SDGs.
Global Gateway is the EU’s positive offer to reduce the worldwide investment gap and boost smart, clean and secure connections in digital, energy and transport sectors, and to strengthen health, education and research systems. The Global Gateway strategy embodies a Team Europe approach that brings together the European Union, EU Member States, and European development finance institutions. Together, it aims to mobilize up to €300 billion in public and private investments from 2021 to 2027, creating essential links rather than dependencies, and closing the global investment gap.