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Africa to US Subsea Cable Coming Soon



The first direct subsea fibre-optic cable system that will connect SA to Brazil, and eventually to the US, is set for commercial launch in 2020, according to Seaborn Networks COO Andy Bax.

The independent submarine cable company, which operates the most direct subsea system between Brazil’s Sao Paulo and New York in the US, last year announced plans to build a route that would be Africa’s first direct connection to the US.

Currently, subsea cable systems which have landed on SA’s shores don’t cater for direct international connectivity. Cable projects such as the West Africa Cable System link SA with the UK along the west coast of Africa. Seacom serves the east and west coasts of Africa, extending its reach into Europe and the Asia-Pacific via India, and the Eastern Africa Submarine Cable System runs from Mtunzini in SA to Port Sudan in Sudan, connecting countries in East Africa to the rest of the world.

The subsea cable system that Seaborn Networks plans to build will provide the direct route between Northern Brazil to Cape Town, effectively connecting Cape Town and New York via Brazil, says Bax.

The Seaborn Networks COO explains the project is in its development phase, which means doing a lot of work around technical specifications, physical routing and identifying potential landing sites on each of the coasts, as well as talking to all the different parties that have shown an interest in being on the cable.

He says the new cable system between Northern Brazil and Cape Town will cost anything in the region of $120 million to $140 million. “We envisage that by the end of this year, we’ll be finished with all the development of the project with the view that we’d start doing the marine survey.

“When you take all these things into consideration, this process would take about 18 months. We would envisage that in the first half of 2020, the system will be available.”

Seaborn Networks already operates Seabras-1, which directly connects Sao Paulo in Brazil and New York in the US, and part of the cable includes branching units or optional drop-off points for the future and one of them is into Northern Brazil.

“The reason we put that there is so that we could build a cable from Northern Brazil to Cape Town, which would then effectively mean there was a direct route between Cape Town and New York via the optional line in Brazil,” notes Bax.

Fewer stops

The benefits of building this cable route, says Bax, is that it will enable a path between Cape Town and New York with just one stop, as opposed to the couple of dozen stops between Middle East, Europe and across the US.

“Today, everybody has to go up the coast either east or west, through the Middle East, through Europe, all the way into Northern Europe and then across the Atlantic to reach the US. This will provide the first direct route between Africa, starting in Cape Town, and the US.”

According to Bax, in the telecoms world, having a route with multiple stops means anything can go wrong and prevent traffic from passing through the undersea cables. This ranges from systems failure, people making mistakes, damaged cables as well as geo-political risks, whereas fewer stops mean fewer disruptions and lower expenses.

It also provides a much more secure route as it only stops in one place, he adds. “From a pure logistic perspective, the cable doesn’t go into Brazil, it only lands at the beach and comes straight back out again. It is just a straight transit through the country, so operationally it is much more efficient.

“Also, because the cable route is going across the Atlantic and straight up rather than through all the different countries, it is much shorter. From a latency perspective, we estimate it is about 30% faster than any of the current reach from Cape Town to New York.”

Providing service providers a different path that is shorter and safer is not only more cost-effective but will enhance the services they provide to consumers, he explains.

In building the new subsea fibre-optic cable system, Seaborn Networks is not looking to replace existing routes but rather supplement them, he continues. “Most of the cloud, content providers and carriers like to have two or three different routes to get between places, and this new cable system will provide them with a totally different path.”

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CTO Appoints Gisa Fuatai Purcell as Director of ICT Development



Gisa Fuatai Purcell, a national of Samoa has been appointed as Director of ICT Development Department of the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO). The Director of ICT Development, who reports to the Secretary-General is responsible for overall strategic direction of the operational divisions of Capacity Development, Events and Technical Support and Consultancy.


“I am delighted to announce the appointment of Ms Purcell. In addition to her impressive personal qualities, Gisa brings to the job a wealth of relevant experience in the ICT development sector spanning about 25 years, as well as excellent experience in dealing with decision makers at the highest level. I look forward to working closely with her,” said Shola Taylor, Secretary-General, who made the announcement today following a merit based internationally advertised recruitment process.


Gisa is the first woman to have been appointed to this top role at the CTO. She has served as the regional advisor to CTO for the South Pacific since July 2016 and before then as the Head of the International Telecommunication Union’s (ITU) Division on ICT development in least developed countries, small island development states, and landlocked developed countries with responsibilities for climate change adaption and disaster risk reduction and emergency telecommunication. She successfully managed many projects around the world including early warning systems using different types of technologies and supporting the development of enabling policies and regulations.


At the national level, Gisa was recruited by the Prime Minister of Samoa while she worked in New Zealand (2003) to help develop Samoa’s first national ICT policy in which the priority project was liberalizing the mobile market.


Her work resulted in Samoa being the first Pacific Island country to have launched and implemented a national ICT policy (2005) and the first Pacific Island country to have liberalized its mobile market (2006) promoting sale of mobile phones and competition among mobile companies that brought down the cost of phone calls per minute.


Through the ITU project, Gisa was instrumental in enabling the Government of Samoa to tackle cybercrime in the revised Crimes Act 2013.


Honourable Afamasaga Rico Tupa’i, Minister of Communications and Information and Technology of Samoa stated, “I am proud of Samoa having one of her daughters continue raising Samoa’s flag in telecommunication and ICT development at the international level. Gisa has been instrumental to the development of ICT in Samoa, within the Pacific and at the global level through her work with the ITU. Well done Gisa, I am very proud of you” Gisa has a Master of Commerce and Administration from Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand.


“I am very humbled with this appointment and I thank the CTO management and Executive Committee for their confidence in me” says Mrs Purcell, adding, “I will take on this job with humility, honesty and praise God for his blessings and guidance. I thank my husband Lautafi Fio Selafi Purcell for his unwavering support, and my children for reminding me I am a woman, a mother and grandmother contributing towards the betterment of mankind”

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MTN Plans $500m IPO- SEC



Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has confirmed that MTN Group had finally commenced discussions with the commission on its proposed 500 million dollars Initial Public Offering (IPO).


A senior management staff of SEC who pleaded anonymity told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos that MTN had commenced discussion with the commission on the IPO.


The source told NAN that although talks were ongoing, the company was yet to formally file its application for the IPO


SEC would remain committed to the development of the nation’s capital market and listing of more multinationals.


Another source at the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), who declined to be mentioned, also told NAN that the NSE had not yet received an official filing from the company, while there were reports recently that MTN Group Ltd. was perfecting plans to raise about 500 million dollars from the sale of shares in its Nigerian business in the first half of 2018.


Standard Bank Group Ltd. and Citigroup Inc. had been advising MTN on the disposal of as much as 30 per cent of its Nigerian unit on the NSE.


However, MTN had agreed to list the Nigerian unit as part of June 2016 agreement to pay one billion dollars fine for missing a deadline to disconnect unregistered subscribers amid a security crackdown.


NAN reports that MTN recently appointed a Nigerian investment firm, Chapel Hill Denham, as lead manager for the planned sale of 500 million dollars shares in its Nigerian business during the first half of this year.


It also appointed South Africa’s Rand Merchant Bank, Renaissance Capital and Vetiva Capital as joint issuers to the offer.


The telecoms firm also appointed seven placement agents that would help market the shares.





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NCC says National Roaming will End Rural-urban Digital Divide



The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) said yesterday national roaming and active Infrastructure Sharing in Nigeria would end rural-urban digital divide.

Prof. Umar Danbatta, NCC Executive Vice-Chairman, stated this at a stakeholders’ forum on “Development of Framework for National Roaming and Active Infrastructure Sharing in Nigeria’’ held at Digital Bridge Institute, Lagos.

Danbatta, who was represented by the Director, Spectrum Administration, Engr. Austin Nwaulunne, said national roaming had the potential of promoting seamless communication of subscribers.

According to him, subscribers will be able to roam on the network of other service providers where their own service provider is unavailable or has limited network coverage.

“The benefits of encouraging active infrastructure sharing can also not be overemphasized.

“Not only will there be noticeable reduction in network deployment costs, the industry will also witness acceleration in the take-up of broadband services and gradual elimination of the rural-urban digital divide,’’ he said.

Danbatta said NCC was committed toward ensuring the continued growth and development of the telecoms industry.

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