The tariff from U.S. to Nigeria dropped from about 20c to 7c in the last four months. Something great is happening. But it is just the beginning.
The West Africa Cable System (WACS), the latest in a new generation of high-capacity submarine communications cables linking Africa to the rest of the world, is set to land at its final destination in Yzerfontein near Cape Town, South Africa in coming weeks.
The cable, the product of a consortium of companies including Gateway Communications, Angola Telecom and Telkom South Africa, has a 5.12 Tbit/s capacity, making it substantially faster than the celebrated SEACOM cable with its 1.28 Tbit/s design capacity. The speed of the WACS cable is such that one could theoretically download about eight million MP3 files or over eight thousand DVDs per minute.
The 14 000km, US$600-million, cable system is being built by Alcatel-Lucent Submarine Networks, and the construction phase is set to be completed in April. WACS will connect Namibia, Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Republic of Congo, Cameroon, Nigeria, Togo, Ghana, and Côte d’Ivoire, to Portugal and the United Kingdom. Significantly, this is the first time Togo, Namibia, the Republic of Congo, and the Democratic Republic of Congo will be connected to a global submarine network.
Originally planned for commercial launch in Q3 2011, a delay means WACS will only become operational in Q1 2012. Once the construction phase in completed this month, the testing phase will commence.