MTN invests $700 million in new cable

Africa's largest mobile phone service provider, Mobile Telecommunication Network (MTN), is investing over US$700 million in a new submarine cable system. The European Indian Gateway will connect Africa, Europe and Asia and boost the region's communication ability.

Alcatel-Lucent has been awarded a contract to build the 18,000-kilometer cable starting next month.

The cable will connect South Africa, Morocco, Libya, the United Arab Emirates, the U.K. and Portugal, among other countries.

The cable will provide a central linking point for other cable systems already in progress, including the East Africa Submarine Cable System (EASSY) project and the West African Cable System (WACS) that will connect east and west Africa.

MTN Group executive of corporate affairs, Nozipho January-Bardill, said earlier this week that the project is expected to be operational in the second quarter of 2010 and will link other cable systems in Africa to global telecom infrastructure via Asia and Europe.

Installation of the European Indian Gateway cable, equipped with transmission facilities, is expected to increase efficiency and reduce operating costs for Internet connections, video, e-commerce, data and voice services.