When I first started a map of planned African undersea cable initiatives in early 2008, I never dreamt that I might start running out of space to put cables on the map.  Yet, there it is.   Over 11 terabits/s of capacity coming to the continent if they all manifest themselves.

And then when the global credit crisis reared its ugly head, I thought we would see some of the cables quietly disappear.  But no, the planned capacity just keeps going up.

Well, not entirely true.  MainOne annouced last week that they had secured 66 million USD in financing for their initiative but what they failed to highlight (and which is still not reflected on their website) is that they have scaled back their aspirations from a 14,000km cable to South Africa back to a 7,000km cable to Lagos.

That change would have put West Africa, as far as Lagos, at the peak of planned capacity with over 8 terabits/s compared to less than 7 terabits/s planned to reach South Africa and about 4 terabits/s headed for East Africa.  But with France Telecom’s announcement two days ago that they are extending their ACE cable to South Africa and that it’s planned capacity was 1.92 terabits/s, that put South Africa back in front with planned capacity now looking like about 8.5 terabits/s.

Given that the whole of South Africa now uses less than 120 Gb/s, big changes are on the way starting with the Seacom cable lighting up in about two weeks time.  Don’t expect instant discounts though.  ISPSs will be cutting over and testing from July on into September.  I think the first big price changes will start to occur in late September, early October.

Posted by Steve Song

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