Sierra Leone is set to receive its first international fibre-optic connection following the landing of the Africa Coast to Europe (ACE) submarine cable in the country’s capital Freetown, Reuters reports. Gilbert Cooper, director of administration of the state-owned Sierra Leone Cable Company, said the cable is expected to become operational during the second half of 2012. When complete, the 17,000km fibre-optic system will run along West Africa with connections to France and South Africa, connecting 23 countries. ‘We are transforming because, as we are speaking, the only available communication outside Sierra Leone is through the satellite, and it is expensive, the quality is limited and the capacity also has some limitations,’ President Ernest Bai Koroma said at an event to mark the landing of the cable by Lumley Beach in western Freetown. The World Bank is providing USD30 million to fund Sierra Leone’s connection to ACE; in return the government said it would liberalise the international gateway for voice calls.