No funding for SAex cable yet

South Atlantic Express (SAex), the planned $320-million submarine cable connecting South Africa and Brazil, has not yet received financial backing, eFive, the company behind the project has said.

Lawrence Mulaudzi, the MD of eFive, said in April 2011 that a worst-case date for the cable’s commissioning would be June 2013, with a best-case date for the first quarter of that year.

However, Rosalind Thomas, who was appointed CEO at eFive Telecoms in January, said: “The project is not going to be ready in 2013 due to delays experienced last year. Our target date is Q4 2014.”

On the group’s financial backing for the cable, the chief executive said: “We are not there yet! But we hope soon to make progress on that front.”

Thomas told BusinessTech in January: “I am pleased to advise that the vendor selection process is close to being finalised and finance discussions are well advanced.”

If this cable system becomes a reality it will be the fifth major submarine cable system to go live in South Africa after SAT-3/SAFE, SEACOM, EASSy and WACS.

A number of market experts have questioned the ability to fund the cable, and its operational time-frame. Moreover, some have also questioned the business case for a fifth international cable system as the existing systems have abundant unused capacity available for future use.

If it were to go-ahead, the initial design capacity of the cable would be 12.8 TBit/s and would be over 10,000 kilometres in length. It would consist of four fibre pairs, each capable of carrying 3,2TBit/s of data using 40GBit/s wavelength technology.

Two fibre pairs — with a combined design capacity of 6,4TBit/s — would be extended to South Africa from an undersea branching unit, with another two fibre pairs likely to be extended to Angola.

The group said it was in discussions with NeotelFibreCo, a partnership between Cell CInternet Solutions and Convergence Partners to access fibre.

According to eFive, a memorandum of understanding closed in April 2010, Main One and SEACOM would interconnect their cables with SAex and so form a pan-African fibre-optic ring. Through SEACOM the cable could also supply India with bandwidth towards the Americas.

Related articles

eFive: SAex cable plans on track

No new sub-sea cable needed for a decade: Telkom

WACS: the last financially feasible undersea cable for SA?

SAex cable finance discussions ‘well advanced’

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No funding for SAex cable yet