By Benson AFFUL
The US$700 million Africa Coast to Europe (ACE) submarine cable, built by a consortium including the Expresso Telecom Group, has touched down on Accra?s shore to bolster Internet connectivity between Ghana and 22 other countries.
The fibre-optic cable, which is 17,000 km long, connects 23 coastal and landlocked countries through terrestrial links and is the first cable system to connect seven African countries in a stretch.
Expresso Telecom Group is the parent company of Expresso Ghana, the local mobile operator, and has set up Expresso-Dolphin Investment to operate the ACE submarine cable in West Africa.
Speaking at its launch in Accra, the Chief Executive Officer of Expresso Ghana, El Amir Ahmed El Amir, said Expresso-Dolphin will offer competitive prices for wholesale capacity to operators, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and high-end enterprises.
He said it will also promote Internet usage and increase Internet penetration in the country through smart partnerships with local ISPs, thereby boosting economic growth.
?ACE will enhance Ghana?s connectivity and route diversity. This means it will connect Ghana with 22 countries from South Africa to Portugal, France and other international gateways,? he said.
Ihab Ibrahim Osman, Chairman of Expresso-Dolphin who spoke on behalf of the consortium, said arrival of the cable in Ghana is a testimony that public-private partnerships (PPPs) are the best solution for fostering growth in Africa.
?The opening of the Ghana landing station is a true example of private sector commitment to boosting strategic infrastructure for connecting West African countries to a submarine cable — and offer Ghanaian businesses an extraordinary regional and global opportunity to accelerate economic growth.?
PPPs, he added, represent the best option available to overcome the many challenges along the transformative journey to develop the continent into a hub of global growth.
The consortium?s other members include France Telecom, Benin Telecoms, C?te D?Ivoire Telecom, Portugal Telecom, the Governments of Gabon and Equatorial Guinea, as well as other telecoms and cable companies operating in Africa.
Expresso-Dolphin is the second-biggest shareholder in the consortium after France Telecom.