Connecting Africa is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 3099067.


SAEx Preps East-West Subsea Cable With Alcatel Submarine Networks

Article Image
The ambitious South Atlantic Express (SAEx) project, which aims to build a 25,000km subsea cable network that will connect the Americas and Asia via South Africa, has reached the study, survey and permission phase, with Alcatel Submarine Networks working on the details.

The SAEx network is being designed to enhance global connectivity and offer an alternative route that goes both east and west from South Africa, as the map below shows. The project is expected to cost more than US$750 million to complete and has a number of financial backers, mostly from South Africa but as yet unidentified by the project's management.

Alcatel Submarine Networks, a subsidiary of Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK), has started working with SAEx International, the Mauritius-based company running the project, on concrete plans for the network, including surveys and an examination of the various permissions that would need to be sought to lay and land the network's cables.

SAEx, if all goes to plan, will boast capacity of up to 108 Tbit/s over its multiple fibers, be ready for service in early 2021, and comprise two legs: SAEx1 will connect South Africa with Brazil and the US, with a branch to St Helena and stub branches for future landings in west Africa and other Atlantic islands; SAEx2 will connect South Africa to both India and Singapore.

But it's not building the whole network with newly laid fiber: It is also hooking up with partners to use some existing subsea routes. For example, SAEx recently announced an agreement with Sparkle, the international arm of TIM (Telecom Italia), to use Sparkle's pan-American network for the route between Brazil and New Jersey on the east coast of the US.

This "significant end-to-end project will further increase connectivity in Africa, deliver significant capacity for wholesale and will enhance service and traffic protection through critical cable route diversity between key markets in Asia and the Americas," noted the company in a press announcement.

Rosalind Thomas, SAEX's Managing Director, added: "SAEx will support efficiency in Asian and African connectivity by adding a direct low-latency route that's able to address the growing capacity requirements" of inter-data center traffic. "Additionally, it will further evolve South Africa's positioning as a global hub, providing a direct link between the Americas and Asia, simplifying and enhancing communications between the five most populous countries in the world."

Alcatel Submarine Networks CEO Philippe Piron said that the project would create "new and diverse routes around the globe at a time of tremendous growth in African broadband, mobile and cloud-based applications that are driving service providers' demand for more connectivity options with higher reliability," adding that the project "confirms Alcatel Submarine Networks' turn-key expertise in helping operators address the fast growth of data-intensive services and applications."

Alcatel Submarine Networks is tasked with delivering "the full project, end-to-end, including network design, manufacturing, installation and commissioning."

— Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading

Innovation hub


Interview: Qualcomm execs on mentorship for African startups

Qualcomm Technology VP for Engineering, Sudeepto Roy, and Elizabeth Migwalla, VP for Government Affairs, join Connecting Africa for a video interview about Qualcomm's Make in Africa Mentorship Program.


Hot startup of the month: Pan-African fintech KamaPay

This month's hot startup is pan-African fintech KamaPay, which helps individuals and businesses make cross-border payments on the continent.

More Innovation hub

Latest video

More videos

Sponsored video

More videos

Industry announcements

More Industry announcements

Flash poll

All polls

Africa Tech Perspectives


Deep dive into East Africa's tech startup ecosystem

New survey reveals a lack of access to investors, reliance on international VCs and global recession trends as the biggest barriers for East African tech startups to access funds.


Challenges and opportunities for women's tech careers

A new survey reveals that COVID-19, the cost-of-living crisis, skills shortages and a lack of mentorship have negatively affected women's career development over the past two years.


Survey: Opportunities for Women in Tech

Take our new survey for women across Asia, Europe and Africa looking at the biggest challenges and opportunities for women-led enterprises and trends in tech careers for women.

More AfricaCom perspectives

Upcoming events

London Tech Week
June 13-16, 2023
Queen Elizabeth II Centre, Broad Sanctuary, London SW1P 3EE
Cybertech Africa 2023
August 1-2, 2023
Kigali Convention Center, Kigali, Rwanda
Africa Tech Festival, Home of AfricaCom and AfricaTech
November 13-16, 2023
CTICC, Cape Town
More Upcoming events

Guest Perspectives


Omdia View: February 2023

By Omdia Analysts

In February 2023 key events in the Middle East and Africa included a major Internet project for Africa's underserved by Liquid Intelligent Technologies and Microsoft as well as a 5G launch in Tanzania – that and more in this month's Omdia View.


Omdia View: July 2022

By Omdia Analysts

Kenya and Zambia move towards 5G with new spectrum allocations while Tunisie Telecom plans to shut down its 3G network - that and more in this month's Omdia View.

More Guest Perspectives

Partner perspectives

All Partner Perspectives

Like us on Facebook

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign Up