African Undersea Cables

Update July 2017 (Version 47)
French version now available.  Cliquez ici pour la version française.

Sub-saharan Undersea Cables in 2018 - maybe (version 47)

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 animated gif history. 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 or Telegeography’s Submarine Cable Map.

Undersea Cable Ownership


The Seacom cable is owned by:

  • 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 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 KfW. 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.


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:

  • 32.5% – Safaricom Ltd
  • 23% – Orange Kenya Ltd
  • 20% – Government of Kenya
  • 10% – Liquid Telecom Kenya Ltd
  • 6% – Wananchi Group
  • 5% – Jamii Telecom Ltd
  • 1.8% – Access Kenya Group
  • 1.2% – BCS Group

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 Cables


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



Africa at Night image courtesy Wikipedia/NASA

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  • Sally

    Great info here. Can anyone tell me who the Tier 1 ISP players are in South Africa and other African countries like Nigeria and Kenya? Also….what exactly makes a Tier 1 player exactly that? SOurces would help too!

  • Wikipedia has a good description of what makes a Tier 1 provider. I am not aware of any African ISPs that would qualify.

    I think the closest thing to a regional Tier 1 provider would be Liquid Telecom

  • Ia Q

    Hi Gerhard. Interested in the Fiber VAS space in Ghana. Can talk more if you like. I can be reached at

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  • Jody Anthony Roberts

    I still dont understand why there isnt a cable from SA to NYC, perhaps with a point in Lagos. There are so many cables going to Europe isnt it overkill. I certainly haven’t noticed a surge in international connectivity speeds with all these added cables. Alot of internet sites/applications/services are US based and to me it doesn’t make sense to go through the UK to get to the US. Maybe I’m not seeing what everyone else is seeing.

  • Tim Parle

    Hi Steve. Small point put you have the English and French versions mixed up. This page shows the French version, and the link takes you to the English version. Anyhow, once again, thanks for this great resource.

  • Doh! So I have. More haste, less speed. Thanks for pointing it out. Fixed now.

  • Kaliech

    How realistic is the DARE project? Either they are exaggerating expected capacity or its serious overkill. Also, I’m wondering if the 7 relatively small companies involved can really afford it The major regional players (Liquid Telecom, Safaricom or Ethiotel) aren’t involved in financing it.

  • It’s really hard to say. Consider that Djibouti is also a landing point for
    – Asia Africa Europe-1 (AAE-1)
    – Australia West Express (AWE)
    – Eastern Africa Submarine System (EASSy)
    – Europe India Gateway (EIG)
    – Middle East North Africa (MENA) Cable System/Gulf Bridge International
    – SEACOM/Tata TGN-Eurasia
    – SeaMeWe-3
    – SeaMeWe-5
    The DARE cable can offer access to competitive international peering, and transit. It’s also fairly short compared to other cables so the total cost is smaller. All of these cables are long bets on the future though so inherently risky.

  • It’s really hard to say. Consider that Djibouti is also a landing point for
    – Asia Africa Europe-1 (AAE-1)
    – Australia West Express (AWE)
    – Eastern Africa Submarine System (EASSy)
    – Europe India Gateway (EIG)
    – Middle East North Africa (MENA) Cable System/Gulf Bridge International
    – SEACOM/Tata TGN-Eurasia
    – SeaMeWe-3
    – SeaMeWe-5
    The DARE cable can offer access to competitive international peering, and transit. It’s also fairly short compared to other cables so the total cost is smaller. All of these cables are long bets on the future though so inherently risky.

  • Mr G

    Something that would be nice, is you can have an interactive image and/or PDF, with each cable as a layer. Then you can hide the layers (cables) you don’t want to see, so it is a bit less cluttered.

  • You are absolutely right. It is getting hard to see what’s going on. The next version, which will be out shortly, will be even more complicated. In the original SVG file the map is sorted into individual layers. In theory it should be possible to translate those layers into an interactive web map but the last time I tried I was defeated by the complexity of the tools. You have inspired me to try again. Stand by!

  • carine

    hi Steve! I am trying to read the french version, but can’t manage to find it…it would be easier for me! Thanks!!!

  • David Leeds

    Hi guys, thanks for this valuable and interesting article. I have a question: Considering that one is planning to launch a web service that serves users across African countries. Where should the server ideally be physically located? e.g. London/ Frankfurt?

  • I would have suggested London or Amsterdam but I think there are hubs in various other countries in Europe that would do equally well. Something else to consider are your use of CDNs and looking at where CloudFlare, Akamai, Limelight, et al have a presence in Africa.

  • inferKNOX

    Hi Steve. I’ve been following this map for many years now and I hope you keep it up. I noticed Mr G’s comment and your response and I’d think that perhaps creating an interactive map like AfTerFibre’s but perhaps using Google Maps? I’m not sure, but I’m willing to contribute where I can, as I am also follow the matter intently and am a (budding) software developer.
    Besides that, perhaps it’s time to add an exciting cable to the map, in the form of Liquid Sea’s:

  • Hi inferKNOX. I have begun work on this using an interactive SVG tool. It’s not ready for prime time yet but you can see where I am going with it at LiquidSea has been on my radar for a while but until they publish a map with landing point, I am reluctant to add it. There are so many new planned cables on the east coast that it is hard to say which ones will come to fruition. I do need to add the DARE cable and the AAE-1 cable at the very least.

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  • infomativearchitect

    Steve: I am a programmer willing to contribute efforts towards interactive map development.

  • Great! Email me at steve [AT] manypossibilities [DOT] net

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