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Same-Day Analysis

WASACE Plans Submarine Cable Connecting Africa to Europe, Latin America and North America

Published: 28 November 2011

The WASACE Cable Company has announced a plan to build a new trans-Atlantic submarine cable that will connect West Africa with Latin America, North America and Europe.

IHS Global Insight Perspective



The planned WASACE system has four new submarine cables, including one running from South Africa to Angola and Nigeria, and a second across the Atlantic from Nigeria to Brazil.


This would potentially be the fifth cable running between South Africa to Nigeria, the third cable linking Latin America to Africa, and would compete on a direct route from Africa to Brazil with the planned e-Five Telecoms South Atlantic Express (SAEx) cable.


The planned WASACE cable faces strong competition and abundant capacity on routes from Southern and West Africa to Europe, and focuses on servicing underdeveloped routes from Africa to Latin America, Africa to the United States and an alternative route for traffic from Asia to the US.

The project is headed by the WASACE Cable Company Worldwide Holding, a multinational development company represented by chief executive officer Ramon Gil-Roldan, according to a company press release. The cable represents a total investment of billions of US dollars from investors on four continents, according to the company, including the international private equity investment firm VIP Must, the African Development Bank, and Brazilian and other investors.

The WASACE trans-Atlantic cable system will deploy 100G technology with four submarine cable sections, along with terrestrial segments in the US, Europe and Africa:

  • WASACE North. New diverse route connecting Europe (France) to North America. 
  • WASACE South. New route connecting South America (Brazil) to Africa (Nigeria). 
  • WASACE America. New diverse route connecting South America (Brazil) to North America. 
  • WASACE Africa. New route connecting Nigeria, Angola and South Africa.

The route map of the WASACE system also shows terrestrial fibre-optic routes in Africa from: Mtunzini to Cape Town in South Africa; Mombasa (Kenya) to Luanda (Angola) via the Democratic Republic of Congo; Djibouti to Nigeria via Ethiopia, Sudan and Chad; Nigeria - Niger - Algeria; Niger - Burkina Faso - Mali - Senegal - Mauritania - Morocco; and Nigeria - Togo - Benin - Ghana - Burkina Faso. 

Outlook and Implications

The planned WASACE cable will meet strong competition and abundant capacity on routes from Southern and West Africa to Europe, and will focus on developing new routes from Africa to Latin America and the US. WASACE’s route map appears to show cables from Nigerian cable company Main One or telecoms company GLO-1 in a different colour running from Nigeria to the UK via Portugal. WASACE would offer an alternative destination to Europe with a trans-Atlantic route to the US for Nigeria, Angola and South Africa.

According to a company press release, the WASACE Cable Company says that it will build and operate a submarine cable system across the Atlantic Ocean, offering two of the major international capacity routes and enabling three new underdeveloped direct traffic routes: Africa to the US, Africa to Latin America and Latin America to Europe. It also has the potential to deliver connectivity from Asia to the US via Africa and Latin America as an alternative to Europe or the Pacific.

WASACE would potentially be the fifth cable running between South Africa and Nigeria, but would offer a route to the US (albeit via Brazil) rather than Europe. For the time being, the SAT-3 cable provides capacity from South Africa to Europe via Angola and Nigeria (and other countries), to be followed in 2012 by the 5.12-Tbps WACS and 5.12-Tbps ACE submarine cables. South African company eFive Telecoms is also planning a cable connecting South Africa to Nigeria, which would interconnect the submarine cables from SEACOM, an African-owned ICT company and Main One (see below). The SAT-3, Main One, GLO-1 cables currently provide long-haul connectivity from West Africa to Europe, which will be followed by cable systems, WACS and ACE, in 2012.

WASACE also offers the potential of a third trans-Atlantic cable from Africa to Latin America. The Atlantis II cable already runs from Brazil to Portugal via Cape Verde and Senegal, and the SAEx cable planned by eFive Telecoms would run from Angola to Brazil.

The plan to build a trans-Atlantic cable from Africa to Brazil has been mooted before. In August 2007, the South African state-owned enterprise and wholesale provider Broadband Infraco announced plans to build a USD700-million submarine cable that would link South Africa with Brazil and South Africa to the UK (see South Africa: 3 August 2007: Infraco Plans New Submarine Cable). The Infraco cable became known as the Africa West Coast Cable (AWCC), but the proposed route to South America was dropped and the system eventually became the West African Cable System (WACS), which is now under construction (see Sub-Saharan Africa: 9 April 2009: WACS Consortium Awards Submarine Cable Contract to Alcatel-Lucent).

In September 2010, South African company eFive Telecoms announced plans to build a new submarine cable linking South Africa to Nigeria via Angola, and from Angola to Brazil (see Sub-Saharan Africa: 3 September 2010: eFive Telecoms Selects Alcatel-Lucent to Build Submarine Cable from Angola to Brazil). The planned eFive/SAEx cable will consist of two trunks: the first connecting South Africa to Angola and Nigeria, and the second trunk linking Angola to Brazil. The first trunk route will interconnect the SEACOM and Main One submarine cables: in April 2010 Main One, SEACOM and eFive Telecoms announced that they had signed a memorandum of understanding to launch the project to develop a pan-African fibre-optic ring (see Sub-Saharan Africa: 28 April 2010: Main One, SEACOM, and eFive Telecoms Sign MoU for Submarine Cable from South Africa to Nigeria).

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