[reuters] France Telecom said on Tuesday it has set up a consortium of 20 companies to invest a total of $700 million in a new submarine data cable to connect West Africa and France, reinforcing its presence in Africa.
Despite being the fastest-growing telecoms market in the world, Africa's broadband growth has been hamstrung by costly international bandwidth and patchy national infrastructure, impeding development and deterring investors.
The new 17,000 kilometres (10,563-miles) long ACE cable between Penmarch in France and Cape Town South Africa will connect in total 23 countries.
It will be the first international submarine cable to land in Mauritania, Gambia, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Sao Tome and Principe, and Equatorial Guinea, France Telecom said in a statement.
"The ACE cable will reduce the cost of access to international telecommunications networks, thereby removing a major barrier to the Internet's development in Africa," France Telecom said.
Separately Alcatel-Lucent said it had won an order to provide equipment worth more than $500 million from the new consortium.
Telcos to put $700 mln in new Africa cable