Telecom Egypt moves to monetise US$90 million MENA cable

Bharti Airtel plans to enter into a permanent agreement with Telecom Egypt to secure Indefeasible Right of Use of the Middle East North Africa Submarine Cable (MENA Cable).

Telecom Egypt acquired MENA from Orascom Telecom Media and Technology Holding S.A.E (OTMT) through its subsidiary Egyptian International Submarine Cables Company (EISCC) for US$90 million in May 2018.

Telecom Egypt's portfolio of cable systems comprises of a total of 11 cable systems from the East and 13 from the West of Egypt linked with the Red Sea-Mediterranean Corridor (which consists of 7 diversified routes across Egypt namely ALETAR, SEA-ME-WE-3, SEA-ME-WE-4, SEA-ME-WE-5, IMEWE, EIG, and AAE-1.)

The partnership will grant Airtel the right to use fibre pairs of MENA Cable from Egypt to India with access to Saudi Arabia and Oman, as well as other fibre pairs from Egypt towards Italy, according to information supplied by the two operators.

Airtel will also have the right to use a fibre pair from Egypt to France on TE North cable system along with capacities on SMW5 and AAE1 cable systems.

Ajay Chitkara, Director and CEO of Airtel Business said, "The partnership, including MENA Cable and TE's network, will be a good addition to our global network portfolio and provide us with a high quality and diversified new route to Western Europe and the rest of the world. With the explosion of data usage in emerging markets, including India and Africa, this asset will provide us a scalable and diverse high capacity highway to serve our customers. In particular, it will provide impetus to India's emergence as a major regional internet hub serving customers across SAARC region, with seamless global connectivity."

Airtel, which runs its telco business in 17 African countries, aims to further diversify its global network to serve the growth in demand for data services through the deal, particularly in emerging markets across South Asia, Africa and Middle East.

Ahmed El Beheiry, Chief Executive Officer of Telecom Egypt said, "Our reach and position as an international hub with tens of Tbps lit capacity makes us the partner of choice for Euro-Asian and Euro-African transit traffic. Telecom Egypt signed the agreement with OTMT to acquire MENA Cable with the aim of capitalising on the growing traffic from India and Saudi Arabia to Europe and to obtain a new gateway to Europe through Italy. We are pleased to be able to sign the MoU with Airtel as well as to be able to bundle MENA's assets with existing assets of the TE network. We aim to come back to the market with more details on the MoU and its financial impact once the deal is closed."