The Africa Coast to Europe (ACE) submarine cable Monday landed in Sierra Leone, an event hailed by President Ernest Koroma as opening the country to the world, with the promise of providing job opportunities and reducing the cost of communications when it becomes operational.
Launched by France Telecom as part of a consortium with telecom operators in participating countries, the 17,000-kilometer ACE cable will run from France to South Africa, connecting 23 countries either directly or indirectly and will provide a significant boost in broadband access.
At the landing ceremony, Shadi Al-Gerjawi, CEO of Sierra Leone's largest telco, Africell, said the cable would provide more than forty times the bandwidth currently serving the close to six million people in the country.
Sierra Leone up to now has relied on highly expensive satellite bandwidth for Internet connections.
According to Gilbert Cooper, the director of Sierra Leone Cable Company SALCAB, the company that represented the country at the signing of the consortium pact last year June, ACE will be operational by the second half of 2012.
Sierra Leone funded its connection to ACE with a line of credit to the tune of US$31.0 million, which it received from the World Bank to boost its ICT communications sectors. A total of $71.5 million was approved by the World Bank for broadband development across Africa this year for three major projects aimed at boosting ICT infrastructure and access to services in Liberia, Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of São Tomé and Príncipe.