About the project
The MainOne System is an undersea fibre optic cable system that links countries on the west coast of Africa to Europe and other parts of the world. The cable system consists of approximately 7000 km of fibre optic cable between Portugal and Nigeria with branching units to the Canary Islands, Morocco, Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana. The cable system, which has been operational since 2010, was completed on time and on budget. Since then, MainOne has developed a reputation for highly reliable services and has become the provider of wholesale Internet services to major telecommunications operators, ISPs, government agencies, large enterprises, and educational institutions in West Africa.
MainOne currently delivers on an open access model with 1.92Tbps of bandwidth (equivalent to ten times the available capacity on the SAT-3 cable and approximately 20 times the available satellite capacity across SSA). A second phase of the project that will extend connectivity to the greater part of the Gulf of Guines and Central Africa is under construction. A further phase will see the extension of the cable to Southern Africa.
MainOne has recently built and commissioned a Tier 3 Data centre to complement its connectivity business. The data centre is operational and has begun to provide services to a wider segment of the business community.
AFC’s equity commitment of approx. US$37 million out of a total $120 million makes it one of the largest investors in MainOne. Other investors include: MST (Promoters), PAIDF, FBN Capital and Skye Bank. Current debt was financed by local banks and the sponsors are local African entrepreneurs and institutions.
Phase one of the project (the cable from Portugal to Ghana and Nigeria with branching points on key countries on the West African Coast) was delivered at a cost of US$240 million.
MainOne has dramatically improved regional connectivity and access, with significant technology/broadband cost reductions to local businesses and consumers. In addition, leasing and capacity sales to leading local telecoms operators have generated activity and revenue for these companies, further promoting sector growth.
MainOne has spearheaded broadband penetration in African countries and the project is creating better access for educational institutions to a wider pool of knowledge and information.
First in its Field
The MainOne project represents:
- The first wholly privately African-funded licensed submarine cable along the West African coastline
- The first private submarine cable landing licenses in Nigeria and Ghana
- The first private cable to deliver services in West Africa
- The highest lit capacity in West Africa to date with upgradeability to reach 4.96 Tbps
- The largest IP NGN network deployed in West Africa on DWDM systems for Internet Transit – Cisco Carrier Routing System (CRS 3)
- The largest regional Tier III carrier neutral data-centre
- MainOne was also AFC’s first equity investment (2008)
The project has received the following international awards:
- African Banker Deal of the Year, 2009
- Private Equity Africa Development Impact Award, 2012
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