VENTURES AFRICA – Potential investors including Internet giant Google are in talks to embark on a $1.5 billion undersea cable linking Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa’s (BRICS) emerging economies to each other and the U.S., a senior official in the project said on Monday.
Reports indicate that the 34,000 km cable, which would be the first of its kind to link BRICS countries, is expected to come online by the end of 2014.
Andrew Mthembu, chairman of technology group i3 Africa, which is promoting the project said; “I’m hoping within the coming six months we will all be in a position to get all the consortium members into some sort of agreement, and then from there it’s then a 24 month period for manufacture and installation.”
Mr Mthembu made the remark on the sidelines of a telecommunications conference. The cable was first proposed in May last year. According to to Mthembu, the cable would also connect with existing undersea cables, thereby, interlinking 21 African countries.
South Africa’s communication minister Dina Pule, speaking during the conference, said although Africa is currently connected to Europe, North America and Asia through nine undersea cables, with five more submarine links planned by 2014, the connections will help improve communications between new trade partners, as well as reduce communication cost and improve the quality of the Internet services.
According to officials, although Internet penetration in Africa has grown to 12.8 percent in 2010 from 2.4 percent in 2006; although a large percentage of continent’s one billion population still has no access.
BRICS is a title, coined from Jim O’Neill’s economic thesis about emerging economies, of an association of leading emerging. It gained prominence out of the inclusion of South Africa into the BRIC group in 2010.
As of 2012, the five BRICS countries represent almost 3 billion people, with a combined nominal GDP of $13.7 trillion, and an estimated $4 trillion in combined foreign reserves.