SAex cable finance discussions ‘well advanced’

Finance discussions for the planned 10,000-kilometre South Atlantic Express (SAex) cable connecting South Africa with Brazil “are well advanced,” according to the newly appointed CEO at eFive Telecoms, the company behind the R3 billion project.

With the group having gone quiet in the second half of 2011, Rosalind Thomas, CEO of eFive Telecoms told BusinessTech, “I am pleased to advise that the vendor selection process is close to being finalised and finance discussions are well advanced.”

A number of market experts have however, questioned the ability to fund the cable, and its operational time-frame.

Lawrence Mulaudzi, the MD of eFive, said in April last year 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.

The group said that the Bank of China announced that it was interested in investing 60% of the funds required for the project. The Industrial Development Corporation of South Africa has also expressed interest in funding.

SAex is a proposed submarine communications cable linking South Africa and Angola to Brazil with onward connectivity to the United States that will connect to the existing GlobeNet cable system.

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 Neotel, FibreCo, a partnership between Cell C, Internet 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.

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