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Bank of China to fund Africa-America submarine cable system

New transatlantic submarine cable will connect Africa to South America

Bank of China is set to fund the construction of an undersea cable system linking South Africa and Angola to Brazil, with onward connectivity to North America. The South Atlantic Express Cable (SAex) is intended to reduce latency and bandwidth costs by connecting Africa to the Americas via its shortest route to date; most of South Africa’s Americas-bound traffic currently routes via Europe.

Once complete, the SAex cable will connect to the existing, 22,000km GlobeNet system linking South and North America. At the African end of the system, SAex will connect with Seacom, a cable that connects Africa’s east coast with India and the Asia-Pacific region, including China.

The project, which was announced last year, received the blessing of the Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) governments at their summit in China this week. While none of the countries is expected to make any direct investment in the initiative, Bank of China is reported to be interested in investing at least 60 per cent of the funds. South Africa’s Industrial Development Corporation is also likely to invest.

The cable, which will have an initial capacity of 12.8Tbps, is to be built, managed and designed by Alcatel-Lucent in partnership with Shanghai Bell. One of the major shareholders in the venture is South Africa’s eFive Telecoms, which first proposed the idea. The cable is expected to go live in mid-2013.

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