African Undersea Cables

Update March 2014
French version now available.  Cliquez ici pour la version française.
There is also a map showing only the cables that are currently live.
Sub-saharan Undersea Cables in 2014 - maybe (version 35)

Please contact me if you’d like a copy of the map in SVG format.

For a history of African undersea cables, have a look at this presentation. If you’re interested in seeing how these cables are changing access, Stanford University’s PINGer project is monitoring the impact of Seacom and other east coast cables as they come online. Also check out the UbuntuNet Alliance’s map of terrestrial fibre in Africa. Finally, for a more comprehensive look at undersea cables, check out Greg Mahlknecht’s map of undersea cables.

Seacom EASSy TEAMs WACS MainOne GLO1 ACE SAex WASACE BRICS
Cost (millions of USD) 650 265 130 600 240 800 700 500 ? ?
Length (km) 13,700 10,000 4,500 14,000 7,000 9,500 14,000 9,000 9,000 34,000
Capacity 1.28 Tb/s 4.72 Tb/s 1.28 Tb/s 5.12 Tb/s 1.92 Tb/s 2.5 Tb/s 5.12 Tb/s 12.8 Tb/s 40 Tb/s 12.8 Tb/s
Completion July 2009 July 2010 Sept 2009 Q3 2011 Q2 2010 Q3 2010 Q2 2012 Q2 2013 2014 2014

Investor detail

Seacom (http://www.seacom.mu)

Industrial Promotion Services (25%), an arm of the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (USD 75 million)

(Kenya – founded by Prince Karim Aga Khan IV of Pakistan)

VenFin Limited (25%) – USD 75 million)

Herakles Telecom LLC (backed by Blackstone) (25%), New York-based lead company, no website (USD 75 million)

Convergence Partners (12,5%) – USD 37.5 million

Shanduka Group (12.5%) – USD 37.5 million

EASSy (http://www.eassy.org/)

EASSy is 90% African-owned although that ownership is underwritten by a substantial investment by Development Financial Institutions (DFIs) including World Bank/IFC, EIB, AfDB, AFD, and DfW. Total DFI investment is apparently $70.7 million, with $18.2 million coming from IFC, 14.5 million from AfDB. This is a smaller amount than the originally advertised $120 million investment from DFIs.

South African investors in EASSY include Telkom/Vodacom ($18.9 million) , MTN ($40.3 million),  and Neotel (~$11 million).

WIOCC, an SPV created to facilitate open access is the largest shareholder, with 29%.  WIOCC consortium members include: Botswana Telecommunications Corporation, Dalkom Somalia, Djibouti Telecom, Gilat Satcom Nigeria Ltd., the Government of Seychelles, the Lesotho Telecommunications Authority, ONATEL Burundi, Telkom Kenya Ltd., Telecommunicacões de Mocambique (TDM), U-COM Burundi, Uganda Telecom Ltd., Zantel Tanzania and most recently, TelOne Zimbabwe and Libyan Post, Telecom and Information Technology Company (LPTIC)

Other investors in the system include Bharti Airtel Limited of India,  British Telecommunications, Etisalat of the United Arab Emirates, France Telecom, Mauritius Telecom, Saudi Telecom Company, Comores Telecom, Sudan Telecom Company, Tanzania Telecommunications Company, Telecom Malagasy,  Zambia Telecommunications Company, Zanzibar Telecom.

TEAMs

85 per cent of the cable is owned by TEAMs (Kenya) Ltd and the rest by Etisalaat of the United Arab Emirates (UAE).   The TEAMS (Kenya) Ltd holding breaks down as follows:

  • 42.5% – Telkom Kenya Ltd
  • 22.5% – Safaricom Ltd
  • 10% – Kenya Data Networks Ltd
  • 10% – Econet/Essar Telecom Ltd
  • 5% – Wananchi Group
  • 3.75% – Jamii Telecom Ltd
  • 1.25% – Broadband Access/AccessKenya Ltd
  • 1.25% – Africa Fibrenet (Uganda) Ltd
  • 1.25% – InHand Ltd
  • 1.25% – iQuip Ltd
  • 1.25% – Flashcom Ltd

West African Cable System (WACS)

 

  • Telkom
  • Vodacom
  • MTN
  • Tata Communications (Neotel)
  • Broadband Infraco
  • Cable & Wireless
  • Portugal Telecoms
  • Congo Telecoms (formerly Sotelco)
  • Telecom Namibia
  • Togo Telecom
  • OCPT (Office Congolais des Postes et Telecommunications)
  • Angola Telecom

MaIN OnE

Privately owned.  On June 1, 2009, the African Development Bank confirmed  USD 66 million financing for the project.

Africa Coast to Europe (ACE)

ACE consortium signatories:

  • Baharicom Development Company
  • Cable Consortium of Liberia
  • Companhia Santomense de Telecomunicações
  • Côte d’Ivoire Telecom
  • Expresso Telecom Group
  • France Telecom
  • Gambia Telecommunications Company
  • International Mauritania Telecom
  • Office Congolais des Postes et Télécommunications
  • Orange Cameroun
  • Orange Guinée
  • Orange Mali
  • Orange Niger
  • PT Comunicações
  • Republic of Equatorial Guinea
  • Republic of Gabon
  • Sierra Leone Cable Company
  • Sonatel
  • Sotelgui
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  • Mike

    Further announcements on ACE – it looks like you’ll have to update the map again…!!

    http://www.francetelecom.com/en_EN/finance/news/cp090609en.jsp

    Also some news on developments with EASSy:

    http://thecitizen.co.tz/newe.php?id=12932

  • Steve Song

    Thanks Mike. Well spotted. The ACE news caught me by surprise!

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  • Miles

    The MainOne cable is now being stretched to South Africa as well …

    http://www.mainonecable.com/

  • Steve Song

    Hi Miles. Actually I suspect not. While the map on their website still reflects a route all the way to South Africa, recent announcements about AFC/AFDB funding talk specifically about the cable terminating in Lagos. I imagine they are up for going to South Africa if the funding were to appear but with the recent ACE announcement, I wouldn’t hold my breath.

  • http://www.aitecafrica.com Earnest Kioko

    Low cost of band with in kenya as The Seacom fibre optic cable landed in Mombasa kenya.

    Attend the first even fibre summit in nairobi

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  • Jannie

    Here is hoping this will improve overall international ping times and speeds. Also lowering costs for decent broadband in South Africa..

  • Gbade

    Do you have the current update on Glo1? Is Q2 2009 still a date to work with? It’s good to know that infrastucture challenge in African will gradually become a thing of the past. Thanks for the good job.

  • Steve Song

    Globalcom are being deliberately vague but I have heard reference to November 2009 as being a more realistic lighting-up date for GLO-1

  • http://www.facebook.com/geerdts Chris

    Steve

    It seems as if the Seacom date has slipped to July now (based on their website – which today says “17 days to go”.

    Very disappointing, after such a long wait!!

    Also – a cheeky request – please consider adding the terrestrial extensions (fibre) planned for landlocked countries specifically to link to the sub cables (Zambia, Malawi, Uganda etc).

    Thanks

  • http://www.aitecafrica.com Earnest

    Kenya is regarded as one of the most advanced in technology hub in Eastern Africa…We invite people to advice on developing local content..in our upcoming summit in August Nairobi Kenya.

  • Steve Song

    Hi Chris. I am ok with Seacom slipping a few weeks. If they only miss their deadline by 2 or 3 weeks, it will still be a remarkable achievement.

    As for terrestrial extensions, I have been trying to crowdsource an African map of terrestrial fibre on Google Maps. Africa Terrestrial Fibre Mapipedia. We have three contributors so far. Looking for more.

  • http://jellyfishcoolman.wordpress.com Jellyfish

    Hi Steve.

    I took up your request for a collaboration on terrestrial fibre. I have drawn a map of the Lamu Port Project which includes rail, pipeline and fibre-optic networks. I had some problems with labeling the lines. However allow me to clarify.

    The green lines are fibre-optic lines to Ethiopia, Southern Sudan, Uganda and Rwanda. This are planned along with the port project. However in the case of Uganda and Rwanda they will most probably be done separate from the project. The blue lines are rail links to Juba(Sudan), Bangui(Central Africa Republic), Douala(Cameroon). There are branches to Ethiopia and Uganda and Rwanda. The red line is a proposed pipeline to Juba which originates from lamu. The green flame like icons refer to resort cities planned within Kenya and are Lamu, Isiolo and Lokichoggio.

    I see you have already added your map of terrestrial fibre which is indeed what inspired me initially. Great work. Lets see whether we can fine-tune it up even more.

  • Nekosi

    Hi Earnest,

    When is the fibre summit taking place in nairobi? Date and venue please

  • http://www.aitecafrica.com Earnest
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  • Paulo

    Hi Steve,
    Are you going to add the LION cable to the map?

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  • http://saharanvibe.blogspot.com/2009/06/africa-on-lens.html Liz

    Steve,

    Great Stuff!!!! Also could you please consider adding undersea cables for North Africa i.e. Egypt, Libya, Algeria and Tunisia if there is one/several.

  • Steve Song

    Hi Paulo. Been searching for a map that actually shows the route of the LION cable. Haven’t been successful so far.

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  • Iwan

    Hi Steve,
    Have you seen this post?
    https://www.communicationsdirectnews.com/do.php/140/35855?199
    Seems like they are missing Seacom, and you are missing Infinity, WAFS and Uhurunet…
    I love this post though, keep up the good work!
    Iwan

  • Steve Song

    @Iwan. Thanks yes saw that one. It’s good but a little out of date I think. The map is based on my inevitably biased opinion of which cables are likely to come to fruition. IWTGC (Infinity) are not there because I’ve seen no news of them for months and no signs of them having completed their financing. Uhurunet I suspect will drown inter-governmental negotiations and bureaucracy. I thought of including WAFS but chose not to ultimately because it is a regional not international cable and also difficult to represent in an already crowded map space. Perhaps I should re-look at it.

    @Liz Working on a version with the Mediterranean cables included.

  • http://www.ungeeked.co.za Ben

    From what I see the LION cable runs from Toamasina on the East coat of Madagascar to Reunion and then to Maurituis.
    http://www.orange.com/fr_FR/groupe/actus/annexes/lion-ace.jsp

    Capacity is 1.3Tbps.

    It is interesting because it seems like this will be a key link into the next generation cables for the islands, unless the other cable systems are going to have a branch to them.

  • Steve Song

    Thanks Ben. I think you’re right. What was confusing me were references to the cable extending as far as Kenya. You can see a spur for what they intended on this map. I suspect TEAMs et al made that idea much less attractive.

  • Johan

    Hi, how will this development (especially WACS), benefit the individual user of internet in Windhoek, Namibia? At the moment, even our 3G is fairly slow.

  • Steve Song

    Hi Johan. It will be important for there to be a competitive local telecom market for Namibia to really enjoy the benefits of access to WACS. Hopefully the ACE cable, which will also land in Namibia, will spur competition.

  • Maarten Jansonius

    Hi Steve,
    so Seacom’s gone live. I took an an interest in the connection matter after visiting Zambia this june, driving for miles and miles alongside an open ditch – which turned out to be a fiber cable project. This was between Lusaka and Livingstone. After reading up on the subject, I still wonder how they are going to connect it to the marine cable system. Thanks for starting the terrestrial wikimapia!

    Looks to me like Zambia might have a better bet joining forces with Botswana to join the marina cable system in Namibia or perhaps to connect to a South-Africa terrestrial cable. Seems to be less km of unlaid cable than the EASSy-agreed route to Dar-Es-Salaam…

    Does anyone have any more info on the terrestrial fiber cable system, especially in South Africa ?

    Steve, thanks for keeping us informed!
    Greets
    Maarten

  • Maarten Jansonius

    Hi Steve,

    According to this message of 17 july 2009 http://www.zedian.co.uk/2009/07/internet-via-optic-fibre-arrives-in_17.html , Zambia has now hooked up to the WACS cable in Namiba via Botswana. I was unable to dig up where the exact cables are, so I couldn’t extend your mapipedia.

    greets
    Maarten

  • Anon

    1. On an earlier version of the cables map, you showed that the EASSy cable (in blue) extended from Mtunzini in South Africa on down to connect with the main trunk of SAFE (which has now been removed). This was a proper link for the map, just that it was not part of EASSy but was part of the SAFE cable.

    2. For SEACOM, you include backhaul solution from Marseilles to London but do not include backhaul in Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Djibouti, or Johannesburg.

    3. SEACOM does not land in Madagascar. There is only a stub that terminates just before Madagascar territorial waters.

  • Steve Song

    Many thanks! Integrating into the next version.

  • http://www-iepm.slac.stanford.edu/pinger/ Les Cottrell

    Thanks for putting together this site. I have been putting together a case study of the impacts of the East African Undersea cables. This is available at https://confluence.slac.stanford.edu/display/IEPM/New+E.+Coast+of+Africa+Fibre My main problem is finding hosts in East Africa that respond to pings and are routed via terrestrial links rather than satellite. Any assistance on such hosts or when we can expect to see them using the new routes would be most intersting.

  • Steve Song

    Hi Les. Thanks for that! Have you tried getting the UbuntuNet Alliance to partner with you on this? I think they would make an ideal partner both in having an interest in the results and in getting the right people on board. Happy to connect you if you like.

  • Steve Song

    Another thought Les. A good PINGer point would be the Durban University of Technology. They are the only university in South Africa to be currently connected to Seacom. All the rest are waiting for the development of the national SANREN backbone, later this year.

  • Iwan

    Is there any more news, apart what was on the web about the failure of the SAT-3 cable? see a.o. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/8176014.stm
    Cheers
    iwan

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  • Robert

    Many Thanks Steve. A very good piece of information.

    Do anyone have some news about connectivity offers in linked countries based on Seacom ?

    Rob