WACS cable officially launched on Africa's west coast

By Bizclik Editor

West Africa Cable System (WACS), the fibre optic cable set to meet demand for fast, efficient broadband in Africa was officially launched today in Cape Town.

The 17,200km fibre optic cable links Southern and Western Africa to Europe and will effectively raise South Africa's current broadband capacity by more than 500 Gigabits per second (Gbps).

WACS spans the west coast of Africa, starting at Yzerfontein near Cape Town, South Africa and terminating in the UK. The 4-fibre pair system was constructed at an approximate total project cost of US$650 million.

Telecoms giant MTN was the biggest invester in WACS, pumping over $100 million into Africa’s largest capacity submarine fibre optic cable six years ago. his will be a much-needed boost to MTN in South Africa, where consumer appetite for data quadrupled during 2011, with data consumption (excl SMS) up by approximately 200 percent year-on-year. In the same period, smartphones usage increased by 128 percent to 3.6 million users, while data users soured to 10.9 million.

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MTN’s Global Carrier Services’ Commercial Relations Lead for the WACS Consortium, Trevor Martins, says MTN identified that the most efficient manner to advance the initiative to construct the WACS system was through a collaborative infrastructure co-build consortium investment model of like-minded operators.

“It was critical for MTN to ensure direct access into its markets in West Africa, and linking efficient system design with multiple landing points. Accordingly, WACS has 15 established terminal stations along its route, including Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Republic of Congo and Namibia – all countries where MTN has a presence.”

Martins adds that “MTN is the largest investor in WACS, with commitments in excess of $100 million, comprising $90 million system capital contribution and additional capital investments towards the construction of cable landing facilities in Cameroon, Ghana, Nigeria and Cote d’Ivoire.”

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