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Angola Cables CEO ever more confident in value of SACS

Angola Cables CEO ever more confident of SACS value

The CEO of Angola Cables Antonio Nunes says he is growing more confident in the value that the African continent will derive from the long-awaited South Atlantic Cable System (SACS) which broke ground in early August.

The company he leads is a majority shareholder in the SACS project which aims to connect Angola and Brazil across 6500 kilometres in the South Atlantic with 40 Tbps (100Gb/s x 100 wavelengths x 4 fiber-pairs) of capacity.

In an interview with ITWeb Africa this week, Nunes, who has now led Angola Cables for over five years, offered an update on the project.

"Since August a lot of things have been happening. The cable is finalised and we have tested it and loaded it into the main ship which is sailing to Angola. As soon as it arrives next month we will start deploying the cable to Brazil. We have believed in the project from the beginning, but we are getting more confidence because our customers are much more confident because they are seeing the cable happening. We are pre-selling the cable and that is going quite well."

Nunes says confidence in the viability of the SACS is also being validated by recent investments in data centre infrastructure on the African continent from ICT industry players like Microsoft.

He adds that Angola Cables will be ready to serve US-based Over-the-Top (OTT) service providers as the need for improved data traffic in Africa become more apparent in the near future.

Cost management challenges

While the SACS system is being constructed by NEC, Nunes confirms that Angola Cables engineers who returned from testing parts of the cable in Japan two weeks ago, will also be on board the vessel deploying the cable to track progress on a daily basis.

This close management is part of working together to keep costs of a big project such as SACS under control. The total cost of investment for SACS is estimated to be approximately USD $160 million by the time it is ready for service in the middle of 2018.

"Managing costs is a very big challenge because we are talking about an intercontinental cable so we have issues in both continents and it is always a challenge to keep the price on the basis that was planned. We have good fights and bad fights. We have things that we can achieve and keep in track and others that we have to continue fighting. I think in the total overview things are going well."

SACS enjoys support from the Angolan government which was represented by the Minister of Telecommunications and Technologies, José Carvalho da Rocha at the launch event in August.

"The government is really supporting us in terms of the development of the system because it is a strategic infrastructure so it is not only the question of Angola cables having a competitive position, but of Angola itself sitting on the table of transmission in the world. It is a very important project for the government too and we have a sovereign guarantee from the government and it also put together the banking that helps to finance our project. We are working with Angolan Development Bank and this is really big support and commitment from the government to the company."

Nunes says while the SACS will remain an important focus until completion, immediate goals for Angola Cables are the delivery of IP transit to different African countries through their POP in Europe and other locations.

"When the SACS is ready we will be able to make a direct connection from Brazil to the African continent for the first time and so the African continent will benefit from getting connectivity directly from Brazil with very low latency and cost. We hope that what we are developing will give the opportunity to make the southern hemisphere countries more connected and to develop easier business opportunities. Africa does not carry out enough business between African countries, which is a pity. If we have this infrastructure available we will be able to solve that issue. We will be developing commercial relationships between our countries."

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