As Published on Julian Rawle Consulting

CamTel is backing a new project to lay a submarine cable directly to Brazil, one of a number of moves to position Cameroon as a new hub in western Africa. 

1441319796​In October, Cameroon incumbent CamTel announced its intention to build a fibre-optic cable between Kribi, Cameroon, and Fortaleza, Brazil. CamTel CEO David Nkoto Emane, said: “Negotiations are advanced enough for Cameroon to be the first African country to have a submarine cable connection to the South American continent.”

Clearly this was a dig at the other African countries that have been working for years on creating this new route and signifi es that there is now a race on to connect the two continents and their emerging economies.

The South Atlantic Express (SAEx) project was announced in 2011, to connect South Africa to Fortaleza. A second phase would connect South Africa to Asia. The project has been through many iterations but has so far been unable to convince investors that there is suffi cient demand to provide a return.

Around the same time, a group of Angola telcos formed Angola Cables and announced their intention to build the South Atlantic Cable System (SACS) between Luanda, Angola and Fortaleza. In October 2014, the Angolan government approved a $260 million bank guarantee for the project, which enabled the signing of a supply contract with NEC. According to Angola Cables, the contract with NEC will go into force in the fi rst quarter of 2016.

The Cameroon-Brazil Cable System (CBCS) project uses a relatively short route and already has Telefonica as a solid landing party in Brazil. Moreover, it has the backing of Chinese money. TMT Finance has quoted the project cost at $463 million. Th is is high compared with recent Pacifi c cable projects of a similar length and sea-bed topology but possibly includes terrestrial network build as well. Huawei Marine has been awarded the supply contract.

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