France Telecom-Orange (FT-Orange) has announced the launch of the first phase of the Africa Coast to Europe (ACE) undersea cable link, which will eventually span 17,000km along the west coast of Africa and connect more than 20 countries between France and South Africa. The first stage of the project has seen the cable go live in France, Portugal, Mauritania, Senegal, Gambia, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and Sao Tome & Principe. Seven additional countries – Canary Islands (Spain), Benin, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola, Namibia and South Africa – will be connected in the second phase. In addition, two landlocked countries, Mali and Niger, will be connected through extensions to the terrestrial network. Finally, Nigeria will also be connected to the cable in 2013. The cable’s construction amounts to a total investment of around USD700 million for the consortium, with around USD250 million financed by the FT-Orange Group and its subsidiaries. Overall capacity on the cable will eventually reach 5.12Tbps.