India's VSNL to invest $200m in South African submarine cable

India's Videsh Sanchar Nigam (VSNL) plans to invest $200 million in the submarine cable project run by South Africa's state-owned network operator Infraco, the Hindustan Times, quoted by a Total Telecom report said.

'Infraco came out with an idea of inviting partners for the submarine projects. We are interested in partnering in that,' the report, quoting a top VSNL official, said.

VSNL has a stake in South Africa's second national operator, Neotel.

Now the company is interested in equity participation in the undersea cable projects of Infraco, the official said.

The report said the news comes after the South African government last week announced that Infraco, the country's third operator, would be 100% state-owned, putting an end to speculation that Tata Group's VSNL was planning to take a 26% stake.

It was reported last year that VSNL would provide $60 million to fund the project in a joint venture with the government.

Infraco is planning to invest $700 million to build an undersea cable network to connect Africa, America and Europe. The project will compete with the submarine cable network SAT-3 and is intended as a means of lowering the cost of broadband in South Africa.

Plans for the rival cable system came under serious criticism last week when it emerged that the formation of Infraco bypassed the South African regulator, the Independent Communications Authority.