5, July 2017
China United Network Communications (China Unicom) has signed an agreement with Cameroon Telecom (CamTel) to construct a South Atlantic Inter Link (SAIL) cable network, 6,000-km. in length. China Unicom and CamTel will work with Huawei Marine Networks Co. Ltd., a submarine cable networks solutions provider, to connect an undersea cable that runs from Kribi Deep Sea Port, Cameroon to Fortaleza Brazil.
Total construction costs are expected to hit US$136 million and take about 24 months to complete. SAIL will possess the largest data transmission capacity between Africa and South America. SAIL would provide reliable intercontinental telecom services for Brazilians and Cameroonians. It’s the first large-scale project in the region led by one of the Big 3 Chinese Telecom operators and China-based equipment manufacturers.
China Unicom and CamTel are responsible for the building and maintenance of SAIL, while Huawei Marine Networks delivers systematic solutions. US$85 million of SAIL was funded by Export-Import Bank of China, while the remainder was covered by CamTel, which includes China Unicom financing US$34 million to the Cameroon-based telecom.
In Cameroon’s capital city – Yaounde – on June 27, Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Guo Ping, China Unicom CEO Lu Yimin and CamTel General Manager (GM) David Nkoto Emane, signed the formal agreement. “China has strategic partnerships with Africa and South America,” the Global Times quotes Lu as saying. “SAIL not only provides high-quality international communications services to countries in these two continents, but also serves Chinese companies to develop their business in the region.”
The project can advance Cameroon’s digital economy, so its nation’s citizens gain better access to phone service and the Internet. Huawei Marine Networks will utilize an advanced 100G technology system with 4 fiber optics pairs that holds a design capacity – 32T-bit/s. SAIL can bridge technology gaps in the South-South region, so Africans and South Americans can enjoy a brighter future.
Beijing has embarked on South-South Cooperation to boost trade, investments and infrastructure building in Africa and South America. Chinese companies are exploring new regions to open up manufacturing zones, tap into natural resources and to develop a growing consumers’ base in the emerging markets. Cameroon, located in Central Africa, offers major opportunities for Chinese firms.
“It is a great pleasure to partner with China Unicom and Huawei Marine Networks on building the SAIL cable system,” Emane told Global Times. He added, “When it is completed, it will provide new international connectivity to facilitate band-width demand between Africa and support the booming economies in the two continents.” In its current state, Cameroon’s cables cannot support all the telecom connections in the country. SAIL can build capacity to meet national coverage. China Unicom, the world’s 4th-largest mobile service provider by subscriber base, will extend its National Broadband Network (NBN) to Cameroon.
Constructing infrastructure that includes telecom networks along with roads and railways in Africa can help people on the continent rise above poverty. But Africans also need better education and job skills to succeed in our globalized economy.
Huawei Technologies has invited young Cameroonians to participate in a training project, known as “Seeds of the Future,” according to Business in Cameroon Website. After a careful selection process, 10 young Cameroonians will receive information and communications training (ICT) at Huawei’s headquarters in Shenzhen, China.
Trainees will participate in a 1-week program, attending lectures and practical classes to strengthen their knowledge, according to Li Dafeng, senior vice president of Huawei Group. Students can also interact with Huawei’s engineers and learn more about the latest innovations developed by the hi-tech giant.
Constructing an undersea fiberoptics cable line is no easy task, especially when telecom cable operators must stretch it to 6,000-km. in length. But, Chinese companies have introduced major equipment upgrades in the field. The people of Brazil and Cameroon will benefit tremendously from such advances, while Chinese investors and companies can expand into key emerging markets in South America and Africa.
China’s South-South Cooperation will open doors for Cameroon when SAIL is fully-connected and performing to capacity. Those living in Central Africa can dial up their phones, click on the internet to enjoy a more convenient connection with people, or to conduct business in a more efficient manner. Accordingly, SAIL will serve as the vital connector for Cameroon’s future and path to prosperity.