The Cable Consortium of Liberia (CCL) announced in Monrovia yesterday that the Africa Coast to Europe (ACE) submarine cable has landed in Monrovia. The landing of the cable marks Liberia’s entrance into the Digital age, by making available true broadband connectivity to the rest of the world. The ACE submarine cable system will stretch from France to South Africa connecting most countries along the west coast of Africa. This new cable will provide broadband connectivity to global telecommunications networks in more than twenty-one countries in Africa and Western Europe.
When the system is completed, slated for mid to late 2012, the ACE submarine cable system, will be 17,000 kilometers in length, and the connected countries will benefit from a state-of-the-art submarine cable system that will deliver a minimum capacity of 1.92 Terabits per second, supplying ample bandwidth for small countries like Liberia. The ACE cable will offer Liberia true broadband connectivity to telecommunications networks in Europe, America, and Asia. The ACE Submarine Cable is Liberia’s first Optical Fiber cable system and a one-of-its kind in the country. In the 1990’s, when other optical fiber systems were being deployed in West Africa, Liberia was at war, missing the opportunity to gain access to the technology.
The vision of connectivity to this submarine cable was initiated by LIBTELCO and facilitated by the Liberia Telecommunications Authority (LTA). The mammoth effort to secure funding led to the formation of Liberia’s first Public Private Partnership in the telecommunications sector — CCL. CCL was established to finance, own, and manage the ACE landing in Liberia. CCL is a public-private venture that was created by several stakeholders in an effort to secure funding for the delivery of high-speed fiber optics to Liberia. In support of this vision, a public-private partnership as a special purpose vehicle to finance a cable landing was enunciated in a Policy Statement issued by the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications in December 2009. CCL stakeholders include the Government of Liberia (GOL)—60%, LIBTELCO—20%, Lone Star Communications—10% and Cellcom—10%. GOL intends to divest its holdings in the near future.
What does this all mean to the average Liberian?
The technology’s many advantages include creating new business opportunities and career opportunities in technology, providing greater access to global markets for Liberian goods and services, giving Liberians superior access to News and Information, and improved access to banking systems and international financial institutions. It will allow for the creation of Call Centers, Emergency Response Centers, Data Centers, Server Farms and it will allow for the local management of the .LR Domain Name Space that is currently being maintained abroad.
Other benefits include improved services at our Internet cafes; secure channels for Liberia security apparatus, a resource for Liberian youth to obtain online technical training and other educational materials. It will increase the quality and availability of telecommunications products and services, and it holds great promise for improving the way government delivers services, including education and health, to name a few. The cable landing on November 3 is only the first stage in the installation process; CCL expects the Terminal Station equipment to be installed sometime in December 2011. The system will not become readily available until the entire deployment is finished and final testing completed in second quarter of 2012
It is important to note, that a few years ago, the idea of a Fiber Optic Landing in Liberia was nothing more than a dream. Today, CCL can proudly say, due to the vision, dedication, and commitment of a small group of Liberians and support from the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf administration, the dream of Fiber Optics is today Liberia’s reality. On this occasion, marking the landing of this important technology on Liberia’s shore, CCL says, “Welcome to the Digital Age Liberia”, the ACE cable is landing.