Undersea Cable Expected to Boost Internet for Africa

Undersea Cable Expected to Boost Internet for Africa

By Geraldine Cook
January 01, 2013

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Potential investors, including Internet giant Google, were considering whether to proceed with a $1.5 billion undersea cable linking Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) to each other and the United States, a senior project official said.

The 34,000-kilometer cable, which would be the first of its kind to link the BRICS group of emerging markets, is expected to come online by the end of 2014, said Andrew Mthembu, chairman of technology group i3 Africa, which is promoting the project.

The cable, first proposed in May 2011, would connect with existing undersea cables, opening access to 21 African countries, Mthembu said.

Africa is connected to Europe, North America and Asia through nine undersea cables, with five more submarine links planned by 2014, South Africa Communication Minister Dina Pule said.

All of these cable connections should help improve the connection to our new trade partners, reduce the cost to communicate and improve the quality of the Internet services, she said.

Mthembu told ZDNet in April 2012 that the cable would allow communication with fewer intermediaries, thus ensuring better security. If you have to travel through four or five different networks, you are that much more vulnerable to interception of your data, Mthembu said.

The cable route is planned to run from the Russian Pacific Coast, along China, around India, down to South Africa, then onto Brazil and finally to the U.S., according to http://africainvestor.com.

Internet penetration in Africa grew to 13.5 percent at the end of 2011 from 2.4 percent in 2006, according to Internet World Stats.

Sources: Reuters, Africa Defense Forum, ZDNET, Internet World Stats