MTN to link ACE undersea cable to SA

MTN says it has joined the consortium of the The ACE (African Coast to Europe) submarine communications cable, and aims to bring it to South Africa.

President and chief executive officer of MTN Group, Sifiso Dabengwa told journalists at a results presentation on Wednesday (5 August), that the operator has plowed approximately $50 million (R683 million) into the cable, which is currently run by Orange.

Dabengwa said that the cable has most recently connected Equatorial Guinea, with additional countries to include Gabon, DRC, Angola, Namibia, and finally South Africa.

He said that all the necessary marine surveys were underway, and the group expects to be rolled-out in the first quarter of 2016.

The first phase of the 17,000 km-long fiber optic cable was put in service on December 15, 2012.

The ACE Cable aims to connect 23 countries, either directly for coastal countries or through land links for landlocked countries, including Mali.

ACE Orange undersea cable map
ACE Orange undersea cable map

The current members of the consortium include: Benin Telecoms, Cable Consortium of Liberia, Canalink Africa SL, Côte d’Ivoire Telecom, Dolphin Telecom JLT, Gambia Submarine Cable, Guinéenne de Large Bande, International Mauritania Telecom, MEO, MTN, Orange (France), Orange Cameroun, Orange Mali, Orange Niger, Republic of Equatorial Guinea, Republic of Gabon, République of Cameroun, Sierra Leone Cable Company, Sonatel, and STP Cabo.

On Wednesday MTN South Africa reported a 1.4% decline in revenue to R18.9 billion for the six months ended June 2015, due to a 27.5% reduction in handset revenue, “although management expects this to improve in the second half supported by the changes in the logistics process’”.

The operation increased its subscriber base by 1.8% to 28.5 million.

Last month, the group announced a new CEO for its local operator, Mteto Nyati, following the surprise departure of Ahmad Farroukh.

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MTN to link ACE undersea cable to SA