AfDB and Main One Cable Company Sign USD 61 Million Loan

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Tunis – 28 September 2009 - The African Development Bank Group (AfDB) and Main One Cable Company signed a loan agreement of USD 61 million towards the development of a submarine fiber optic cable connection along the West African coast. With this investment, the Bank has further expanded its wide support for African ICT projects following investments in the East African “EaSSy” submarine cable and the two satellites Rascom and New Dawn.

The project totaling USD 240 million will involve the laying of 7,000 kilometers of submarine fiber optic cable between Seixal (a suburb of Lisbon) in Portugal, Accra in Ghana, and Lagos in Nigeria. The system will be based on a trunk-and-branch topology and include branching units to the Canary Islands, Morocco, Senegal, and Côte d’Ivoire. The 1.92 Tbps of available bandwidth will be leased wholesale to telecom operators and internet service providers on an open access basis, thereby encouraging competitive pricing and a large customer base. The project has already attracted broad interest and MST, the Nigerian based sponsor, is in the process of securing long term contracts with a number of the largest operators in Nigeria and Ghana.

The considerable increase in available bandwidth from the Main One cable will provide telecom operators with the additional capacity they require to expand networks and mobilize a broader range of services. The system will contribute to an immediate 50 percent drop in the price of bandwidth in Nigeria and Ghana, and continued price reduction is anticipated over time.  

Ms. Funke Opeke, CEO of Main One Cable Company, indicated that “the Main One Cable system will ensure that broadband communications in West Africa is accessible and affordable.  She added that ‘the investment by the AfDB in financing this enhanced access to ICT is an investment in the region's economic growth."

The Main One project aligns closely with the Bank’s infrastructure orientation and private sector development strategy, and the ICT Strategy for 2008-2010 in particular. Specifically, the project is congruent with the Bank’s Country Strategy Papers (CSP) for Nigeria and Ghana which both underscore private sector intervention in the infrastructure space. In addition, Main One ties in with the Bank’s role as a lead agency implementing the medium- to long-term strategic framework of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD).