By Emeka Aginam
Main One, in partnership withÂ SEACOM and eFive Telecoms have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to launch a project that would develop a pan-African fibre ring solution.
The new cable between South Africa and Nigeria, if implemented would enable Main One and SEACOM to circumvent Africa; offering redundancy and additional capacity on both East and West African routes. The solution would require a new cable section to link Nigeria with South Africa via landing points in Gabon, the DRC, Angola and Namibia.
The new addition would follow the completion of the first phase of the Main One cable project which will connect Nigeria to London by June. The SEACOM cable, which became operational in July 2009, currently runs from South Africa along the east coast of Africa and onwards to the rest of the world via India and Europe.
Funke Opeke, Main One CEO while explaining the partnership said thatÂ â€œMain Oneâ€™s plan in 2008 included building in two phases with phase one connecting London and Nigeria through a 7,000-kilometre cable. Phase two will connect Nigeria with South Africa once the right partnership with the right level of funding is secured.
â€œWith the first phase scheduled to be completed on time and on budget in June 2010, we believe that the proposed partnership with SEACOM and eFive telecoms is the best way forward,â€ he added.
Similarly, eFive Telecoms, a South African telecommunications company, will be responsible for the project funding arrangements and plans to join forces with Nova Capital Africa to raise the US$400 million necessary to manufacture and install the new cable. Nova Capital Africa is part of Nova Capital Partners LLC, a New York-based emerging markets investment banking group that serves large and middle market companies throughout Africa as well as central and eastern Europe.
As with the Main One and SEACOM cables, the solution will be privately funded and installed on an open access basis by 2012, giving it an early timing advantage when compared to other planned systems. Actual ownership structure, construction plans and contractual details are yet to be finalised.
â€œWe hold the view that a system circumventing the entire continent is the best way to attain adequate redundancy whilst offering customers a comprehensive connectivity solution. The MoU announced shows our determination to find a viable way to extend our system with partners who share our vision for the development of ICT on the continent,â€Â Brian Herlihy, SEACOM CEO., said.
Main One Cable Company Limited (â€˜Main Oneâ€™) is the first submarine cable company offering open access, wholesale broadband capacity in West Africa.
Main One is wholly African-owned with a vision to expand the much needed capacity on the African continent and reduce costs of broadband communications across the Continent. SEACOM, which is privately funded and over three quarters African owned, assists communication carriers in southern and east Africa through the sale of wholesale international capacity.