ACE, the network fighting the digital divide in Africa

ACE (Africa Coast to Europe) is one of the cables linking Europe to the African countries adjoining the Atlantic Ocean. This strategic infrastructure, which has been in operation since 2012, has helped to oppose the continental digital divide.

From Africa to Europe on the ACE

The acronym ACE stands for Africa Coast to Europe, one of the most important systems of undersea cables serving Africa. This infrastructure, with a length of more than 17,000 kilometres, extends from South Africa to France along the western coast of the African continent, offering a connection to twenty countries. This range has strategic importance because it highlights an area, Africa, with enormous potential when it comes to telecommunications and Internet operations. In 2015, an implementation project was approved to bring it to Cameroon.

ACE went in service in December of 2012. This achievement cost about 700 million dollars and was assigned to Alcatel Lucent, which guaranteed it would use the most advanced fibre optic technology, WDM (wavelength division multiplexing). The network’s cables, which lie more than 6,000 meters below sea level, have a diameter of 4-5 centimetres and a maximum range of 5.12 Tbps.

Fighting the digital divide

The strategic importance of ACE is best understood by reading through the list of African countries involved, including some that will be connected to the international cable network for the first time. These are Guinea, Equatorial Guinea, Gambia, Liberia, Mauritania, Sao Tome and Principe and Sierra Leone. The infrastructure was designed with a goal of bringing down the cost of broadband in Africa, as part of the fight against the digital divide and to help the social and economic development of the continent. Furthermore, for some of these countries, when they go online, it will be their first connection to the international network that carries internet communications.