France Telecom (Orange) today announced it signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on 27 November 2008, which will result in the installation of a submarine fibre-optic cable that will provide over 20 countries within the West African coastal region with internet access. In a press release the French telco said the 12,000km cable, dubbed Africa Coast to Europe (ACE), will extend from Gabon to France, and from 2011 will connect Gabon, Cameroon, Nigeria, Benin, Togo, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Senegal, Gambia, Cape Verde, Mauritania, Morocco, Spain, Portugal and France. An extension to South Africa is also being considered. To complete the project FT and its regional subsidiaries Cote d’Ivoire Telecom, Orange Bissau, Orange Cameroun, Orange Guinee, Orange Mali, Orange Niger, Orange Spain and Sonatel have teamed up with numerous international operators, it said in its statement.
Thenew cable will use Dense Wavelength Division Multiplexing (DWDM) technology and will operate perfectly alongside existing systems. FT hopes the project will help reduce the digital divide in the West Africa region. It already operates in 15 African countries and is a co-owner of several submarine cables in the region: Sat3-Wasc-Safe, one of the longest in the world linking Portugal to Malaysia down the West coast of Africa, and Atlantis 2 linking Portugal to Argentina via Senegal.