African cable project embraces more nations

Telecommunications in Southern and sub-Saharan Africa may be on the threshold of a new era, if progress on an ambitious continental cabling project is an indication.

  • E-Mail
By  Richard Brown Published  May 19, 2002

Ghana and Senegal just commissioned their sections of the submarine initiative, part of the combined South Africa - Far East (SAFE) and Southern Africa - West Africa (SAT-3/WASC) undersea cable.

Expected to run to 28,800kms and cost US$640m, the cable consists of two fibre pairs initially capable of transmitting at 10 Gb/s with plans to quadruple capacity to 40 Gb/s within the next year.

According to the project’s website, ultimate capacity could exceed 80Gb/s between terminals. Submarine cables carry the majority of overseas voice, fax and Internet communications.

The Telekom South Africa-led project, which involves the laying of fibre optic cable from Sisimbra (Portugal) to Melbosstrand (South Africa), will link terminal stations in 17 other countries in Africa and Europe. The cable will be shielded against storms and earthquakes, unlike Satellite Earth Stations which are vulnerable to their disruptive effects.

The cable was initially planned to route from Dakar, Senegal to Cape Town in South Africa with landing points at Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire; Accra, Ghana; Cotonou, Benin; Lagos and Bonny, Nigeria; Duala, Cameroun; Libreville, Gabon; Luanda, Angola and Swakopmund, Namibia.

This project aims to accommodate Africa's growing telecommunications needs, while providing a secure and reliable alternate traffic route between Western Europe, the Americas and Asia.

It is also expected to accelerate telecoms processing. While the hearing delay on a satellite transmission between South Africa and Europe or Asia is typically 250 milliseconds, the delay on the cable will be less than 60 milliseconds.

This compression is achieved by strategically placed repeaters which regenerate and amplify signals commonly distorted and weakened over long distances. Over 430 repeaters will be used in the project, positioned between 50km and 80km apart.

The SAT-3/WASC cable was initially planned to route from Dakar, Senegal to Cape Town in South Africa with landing points at Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire; Accra, Ghana; Cotonou, Benin; Lagos and Bonny, Nigeria; Duala, Cameroun; Libreville, Gabon; Luanda, Angola and
SAFE planned to connect Cape Town in South Africa with Penang, Malaysia and has hits land at Mtunzini, South Africa; Saint Paul, Reunion; Bale Jacot, Mauritius and Cochin, India.

Eventually, the two projects were merged and extended to Sisimbra in Portugal to spur their commercial appeal to international carriers.

Add a Comment

Your display name This field is mandatory

Your e-mail address This field is mandatory (Your e-mail address won't be published)

Security code