The 8700km, 24-fibre pair, 480Tbps (20Tbs per fibre pair) system will connect Lisbon and Sines, Portugal to Port Said, Egypt with additional landings in Barcelona, Torreguadiaro, Zahara and Alacant in Spain; Tétouan and Nador in Morocco; Algiers, Bizerte in Tunisia, Algiers and Collo in Algeria; Marseille in France; Mazara del Vallo in Italy; Yeroskipou in Cyprus; and Tympaki in Greece.
The deal is currently under review to be partially financed by the European Investment Bank for a contribution of €163 million.
Norman Albi, CEO of AFR-IX announced the project speaking to Portuguese newspaper Expresso, saying: "There is a combination of factors that lead us to invest in this cable: in addition to the fact that there are some submarine cables in the Mediterranean that are reaching the end of their life cycle (and that need alternatives), it is known that the telecommunications traffic generated in Africa has grown at an average of 55% per year."
Albi adds that the system will feature "state of the art of fibre optic technologies” as well as an ‘open’ cable configuration "which can be connected to any type of technology or brand” and will offer a suite of services including full and half fibre pairs.
“We are neutral and provide services to anyone who asks us," added Albi. "And we can also present alternative services with routes that may not be very interesting for cables managed by content producers or by consortia of telecommunications operators”
AFR-IX has landing party agreements in place with local operators in North Africa, while in Europe local operational subsidiaries in Portugal, Spain, France, Italy and Greece hold licences, PiPs as well as local owners of local subsea assets.
The system will also connect to metro ring fibre backhaul to data centres, and is due to go live in segments, the West Med branch (Portugal, Spain, France Italy and Greece) is expected to become ready for service by Q3 2024, while the East Med branch (Tunisia, Greece and Egypt) will be ready for service by Q1 of 2025. ■