Alcatel-Lucent has signed a $500 million (€416 million) contract with a consortium of 20 African carriers to construct a submarine cable network linking the continent to France.
The Africa Coast to Europe consortium will use the 17,000km cable to offer the first high-speed broadband cable connection in some of the world’s poorest countries once the network, which will run from South Africa to France, goes live in 1H12.
A total of 23 African nations will have access to the cable – either directly or indirectly through terrestrial links –, which offers initial capacity of 40Gbps, and design capacity of 5.12Tbps.
The consortium includes telcos from Benin, Liberia, Gambia, Sierra Leone and Cameroon, who plan to use the network to deploy services including e-healthcare and education.
France Telecom, which heads up the consortium, said the network would require total investment of $700 million.
It is part of a wave of cable-building around the African continent, including the EASSy system on the east coast – another Alcatel-Lucent project that opened last year -, and the Glo-1 cable linking Nigeria, Ghana and the UK, which is due to begin service this month.