The undersea cable environment around the African continent continues to evolve.  Proposed cables appear, disappear, merge.  A testament to the competitive environment.  In this latest update, I have added the MaIN OnE cable which appears to be making progress.  Thanks to Abi Jagun for finding their real website.

Sub-saharan Undersea Cables in 2010 - maybe (version 7)

In the meantime Infraco AWCC, SAT4, and UhuruNet have all morphed into the West Africa Cable System (WACS).  Thus WACS is now a “cartel” consisting of Telkom, Vodacom, MTN, Neotel, and Infraco, with UhuruNet squeezed in there as well, if only so that the South African Department of Communications should not look like complete idiots.  As if that would save them.

As before, you can download a version in SVG format so that you can edit the map yourself. Right click on the link and choose Save As otherwise your clever browser may try to render the image.

Next I may try to do an investment map to look at who will own all this bandwidth.

Note: the most up-to-date version of this map can be found at


Posted by Steve Song

@stevesong local telco policy activist. social entrepreneur. founder of @villagetelco
#africa #telecoms #opensource #privacy #wireless #spectrum #data

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  • Mathieu

    Maybe you should also mention the Glo-1 cable from Globacom. It’s already being rolled-out by Alcatel and should be operational, at least in Lagos, by Q109.

  • Steve Song

    Point taken Matthieu. And I had intended to add it after your comment on my last version. However, I have resisted putting up GLO-1, partly because I have yet to find a map of it, which I use as a rough approximate of credibility (although there have been many maps in the past which haven’t panned out… Africa One, Uhurunet, et al come to mind). The other reason is that I have heard conflicting rumours as to whether GLO-1 is stalled or not. If you have access to credible sources about the cable or even just a map, I would be very grateful.

  • rodney

    Thanks so much for the info. It’s so lacking from the media or the authorities.
    Could you add our present SAT3 with its bandwidth, who owns it (SA govt) etc? to give a comparison.
    Also, the MaIN OnE is not shown linking to UK, it must, not so? 🙂
    Also, make this info known to MYADSL then it will spread through SA.

    Cheers. All the best, and thanks again


  • Steve Song

    Hi Rodney, thanks! I had assumed that SAT-3 was fairly well documented elsewhere, most notably at FibreForAfrica but in looking at the site, I realise they don’t say exactly how much Telkom owns of the cable. It is not well known. I had to go to Telkom’s SEC filing to find out. Telkom are the biggest investor in SAT3. They have invested USD95 million and have access to up to 24% of the cable (total capacity 120 gbps). Telkom is also the managing partner of the cable which must be an in kind contribution as USD95 million does not add up to 24% of USD595 million total cost of the cable.

    The other big investors are France Telecom (12.08%); Nitel (8.39%); and TCI, a subsidiary of AT&T (12.42%) and VSNL (8.93%). There are 12 African investors who own 46% of the cable with Nitel having the second largest African stake with a USD50 million dollar investment.

    For comparison’s sake, Telkom has a USD23 million dollar investment in EASSy giving them an 8% stake in that cable. Doing some simple arithmetic, that should buy them about 50gbps. The cost of undersea cable bandwidth has certainly come down.

    There are plans to upgrade SAT3 to triple its current bandwidth but whether that goes ahead will likely be affected by the success or not of the WACS cable, which has been very silent since its announcement.

    Finally, as far as I know, MaIN OnE terminates in Portugal. Onward transit is obviously available but it looks like it has to be negotiated separately. Compare this with Seacom who land in France but have negotiated their own onward bandwidth to London and are selling termination to London as a package.

  • Hi Steve, Please let me know if I should send you the complete ownership breakdown for TEAMS?

  • ramy

    Does anyone has info on the expected tariff plan of Eassy and SEACOM? hope someone can help me in this

  • Steve Song

    @ramy Seacom have advertised the following price structure for South Africa:

    Bandwidth Equivalent STM-1 USD / Mbps / Month
    STM-1 (155 Mbps) USD 4 350 000 USD 96
    STM-4 (633 Mbps) USD 3 697 500 USD 82
    STM-16 (2,4 Gbps) USD 2 773 125 USD 62
    STM-64 (10 Gbps) USD 1 663 875 USD 38

    Although judging by this article, prices in Uganda will be lower than that i.e. USD 3.5 million for an STM-1.

  • François

    Hi Steve.
    I thought you should update that TEAMS has now covered more than 2000km and completed laying phase one of the cable. It is expected to make landfall on Mombasa around first week of June 2009 barring any pirate incidents. The Kenya govt has also sought the help of some foreign navies around the Indian Ocean to escort the cable laying ship. Once the cable lands it will be subjected to a few weeks of testing before it commences beaming bandwidth. Kenyans are really excited at the prospect of cheap prices. Come to think of it we will have a very interesting experiment. SEACOM is a private cable, TEAMS is a hybrid Govt/private cable and finally EASSy is a governments sponsored cable run on open access. I bet you prices will come down otherwise nothing will.

  • Steve Song

    Looks like it is going to be a race to the very day or week to see who lights up East Africa first. My guess is it will be TEAMs if only because there is a little Kenyan pride at stake. Whoever lands first it, going from no fibre to being able to select the undersea of your choice is just amazing. Bring it on!

  • Hi Steve.

    I am hearing great news today. SEACOM has completed most of the physical construction work on the cable. It has now commenced testing and is scheduled to go live next month or first week of july. Soon 1.2Tb/s will be available for us to do with as we please. I think your map could now do with a completion. I saw your request on twitter to make it interactive and thats a great idea. Now it’s upto to us Africans to develope content.

  • Do you have any information on the back hauls of mainOne (Ghana and Nigeria)there are no proposed maps or information on the web.

  • Steve Song

    Hi David, I wish I did. Terrestrial fibre info is notoriously difficult to come by. I am working with the UbuntuNet Alliance to try to develop a crowd-sourced solution to this. I’ll post something as soon as I have more concrete information.

  • Do you have any information on the back hauls of mainOne (Ghana anc Nigeria)there are no lroposed maps or information on the web.;

  • Steve Song

    No, not yet unfortunately. Struggling to find more info on terrestrial cables.

  • Sheriff Adam

    Many articles have reported the expansion of the SAT 3/WASC leg of the SAT 3/WASC – SAFE cable from 120 Gbps to 340 Gbps in 2010. However, it is not clear whether the SAFE leg has been expanded too. Can anyone provide the information pse? If the SAFE leg from South Africa to Mauritius – India – Malaysia has been expanded, what is its new capacity?

  • Steve Song

    Hi, The SAFE leg of the cable has been upgraded to 440 Gb/s according to this article

  • I heard Telecom Namibia owns a stake in the SAT-3/WASC cable.
    What puzzles me is the fact that they have not connected to it yet.

  • It’s great to look back on these older posts or articles and see how far South Africa has come in regards to moving on to bigger things in the Internet atmosphere – there is still a long way to go, as many web design firms know!