New 40Tbps subsea cable is first to link Africa and South America

9 Aug 2017

Beachfront in Luanda, capital of Angola. Image: JP Matias/Shutterstock

Linking two continents, a new subsea cable between Africa and South America nears completion ahead of a historic connection.

While subsea cable connections between Europe and North America have recently been increased, South America and Africa are about to begin an entirely new era of connectivity.

Starting in the south of Angola’s capital, Luanda, the subsea cable will stretch a distance of more than 6,500km to the city of Fortaleza in Brazil. Called the South Atlantic Cable System (SACS), it has a capacity of 40Tbps.

Before the laying of the SACS, Africa and South America have had to connect with one another via Europe and then North America, and one subsea cable called Atlantis-2, which travels along the north-west coast of Africa via Senegal.

However, much of south-west Africa’s connectivity comes from the West African Cable System (WACS), which travels from the UK into Spain and then down along the African coast to South Africa.

As its point of contact in Africa, the Angolan government has described SACS’ introduction as a “paradigm shift in Africa’s telecommunications sector”.

Booming start-up scene

According to Angola Cables, which is overseeing the running of SACS, the cable will bring significantly reduced latency to connections between Angola and Brazil, from a connecting time of 300 milliseconds to 60 milliseconds.

“For Angolans, the time to access content available in America – the largest centre for the production and aggregation of digital content and services – will improve fivefold,” said António Nunes, CEO of Angola Cables.

He added: “Current cable systems, such as WACS, together with the SACS and Monet cables systems, will improve connectivity but also economically benefit Angola and the surrounding regions, as tech companies requiring high connectivity establish and grow their operations in Africa.”

In recent years, many parts of Africa have caught the attention of venture capital firms following a rapid expansion in connectivity, particularly when it comes to fintech, as recently reported by Disrupt Africa.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic