Main One Cable Completes Fibre Cable Lay From Portugal Through to Ghana and Nigeria

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Accra, 19 May 2010 – The celebration of the final splice of the Main One submarine cable, a project financed in part by the African Development Bank (AfDB) through its private sector window, was held on Wednesday, 19 May 2010 at the Tema Port in Ghana. This landing marks the successful completion of phase one of this project.

The Main One project, whose total cost amounts to about USD 240 million, involves 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 includes subsequent 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.

There is growing evidence that ICTs play a critical role in social development, particularly in sectors such as health, education, and agriculture and for addressing the Millennium Development Goals. The Main One project is expected to create hundreds of thousands of new Internet users who will be able to engage in e-learning, e-commerce, and online social networking. Better access to information enhances the people’s health, skills, employability, and their overall quality of life.

Speaking at the ceremony on behalf of the African Development Bank, Mr. Alieu Jeng, Resident Representative  of the Ghana Field Office, stated that “this investment comes at an opportune time to unlock the constrained West African telecommunications market and catalyze the economic potential of the region” and added that “Main One is an important step towards lower cost of international telecommunications and significant expansion of internet access via submarine cable, which will lead to greater efficiency and more competitive business.”

Through the Main One project, Ghana and Nigeria will increase bandwidth availability, affordability, and reliability, which will reduce the cost of doing business, lead to job creation and create favorable conditions for higher real economic growth. The project will lead to the creation of new service-oriented businesses in the ICT sector, such as call centers, and innovative-instant messaging businesses such as mobile-based money transfers.

More generally the African Development Bank has been active in promoting ICT infrastructure on the continent. In addition to the Main One project on the west coast, it has financed the East African Submarine System (EASSy), a submarine cable linking the continent’s east coast. It has also financed two pan-African telecommunication satellites: RascomStarQaf and New Dawn. It has also been actively involved in preparing the implementation of terrestrial fiber projects, including the Central Africa Backbone project and the ECOWAS Wide Area Network project.

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