SEACOM (African cable system)

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SEACOM Network Diagram.jpg
Landing points
see the landing points section
Design capacity12 Tbit/s[2]
Currently lit capacity500 Gbit/s[3]
TechnologyFiber optics
Date of first useJuly 23, 2009 (2009-07-23)
SEACOM's logo

SEACOM is a submarine communications cable operator with a network of submarine, and terrestrial, high-speed fibre-optic cable that serves the east and west coasts of Africa. SEACOM’s reach extends into Europe and the Asia-Pacific. The pan-African network uses bundled backhaul, open access points of presence (PoPs), and global partnerships to provide end-to-end wholesale and enterprise connectivity to the Internet for both African and international network and content service providers.

Since July 2009, SEACOM has increased the availability of international bandwidth ten-fold, and especially in many of Africa’s most underserved nations.

Cable structure and technology[edit]

A cross section of the shore-end of a modern submarine communications cable. 1     Polyethylene2     Mylar tape 3      – Stranded steel wires4     Aluminium water barrier 5     Polycarbonate6     Copper or aluminium tube 7     Petroleum jelly8     Optical fibers

Fibre-optic pairs are provided from Kenya to France to a point of presence (PoP) in Marseille, as well as from Tanzania to India into a PoP in Mumbai.

SEACOM has also built an on-net European network, managed and operated by themselves, to deliver transport layer, internet protocol (IP), and multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) services from Africa to the following cities in Europe, and vice versa:

  • Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • Frankfurt, Germany
  • London, United Kingdom
  • Marseille, France
  • Slough, United Kingdom
  • Stockholm, Sweden

Through third-party networks in Europe, SEACOM also delivers these services to other locations in Europe not covered in the list of cities above.

The SEACOM cable is deployed with a mixture of double armour cable, single armour cable, special protection cable (with a metallic wrap below the insulator, rather than steel wires), and lightweight cable without armour, used in deep waters. Shallower water cable typically has more protective armour than offshore, deeper cable.

The cable is a loose tube design that determines the amount and relative location along the transmission path of each type of fibre. Multiple fibre types are used in the cable: dispersion-shifted and non-zero dispersion-shifted.

The repeaters are optical amplifier repeaters, using erbium-doped amplifiers. There are over 150 repeaters in the SEACOM system. They are spaced along the cable many tens of kilometres apart with the distance between repeaters varying depending on the segment in the system. Repeater spacing is determined by a variety of factors, including the transmission capacity of the fibres in the cable and the distance between cable landing points.

On 23 July 2009, the 17,000 kilometres (11,000 mi) cable began operations, providing the eastern and southern African countries of Djibouti, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, and South Africa with high-speed Internet connectivity to Europe and Asia. The cable was officially switched on in simultaneous events held across the region, in Mombasa, Kenya, and Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania.

Upon being switched on, SEACOM stated that it would "reduce Internet costs by up to 95% to wholesale customers while providing a far greater speed of Internet connection. It may take a long time for the benefits to reach ordinary citizens, particularly those who live in remote rural areas."

Project funding[edit]

SEACOM is privately-funded, and approximately 75% African-owned. Initial private investment in the SEACOM project was US$375 million: $75 million from the developers, $150 million from private South African investors, and $75 million as a commercial loan from Nedbank (South Africa). The remaining $75 million was provided by Industrial Promotion Services (IPS), which is the industrial and infrastructure arm of the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development. The IPS investment was funded by $15 million in equity, and a total of $60.4 million in debt from the Emerging Africa Infrastructure Fund and the FMO.[4][clarification needed]

Current ownership structure is as follows: 30% IPS, 30% Remgro, 15% Sanlam, 15% Convergence Partners, and 10% by Brian Herlihy.[5]

The cable is variously described as a $600 and a $650 million project, and has seen a number of upgrades to landing station infrastructure, national backhaul and increases to carrying capacity, with an increase to 2.6 terabits per second (Tbit/s) in May 2012,[6] and then to 12 Tbit/s in 2014.[7]

Landing points[edit]

SEACOM network map

The cable landing points are:

In addition, as of May 2012, backhaul solutions allow onwards connectivity from the coastal landing points to:

  • London, United Kingdom
  • Johannesburg, South Africa
  • Cape Town, South Africa
  • Durban, South Africa
  • Kijitonyama, Tanzania
  • Nairobi, Kenya
  • Kampala, Uganda
  • Kigali, Rwanda
  • Dawele, Djibouti border with Ethiopia
  • Galafi, Djibouti border with Ethiopia
  • Beitbridge, South African border with Zimbabwe
  • Mutare, Mozambique border with Zimbabwe
  • Onseepkans, South African border with Namibia
  • Ramatlabama, South African border with Botswana
  • Mahamba, South African border with Swaziland
  • Caprivi, Namibia border with Zambia

SEACOM Partner Network landing points include:

  • Yzerfontein, South Africa
  • Swakopmund, Namibia
  • Luanda, Angola
  • Muanda, DRC
  • Pointe Noir, Congo
  • Lagos, Nigeria
  • Accra, Ghana
  • Seixal, Portugal
  • Fujairah, UAE

Social and economic implications[edit]

East Africa has been one of the last significant regions lacking broadband Internet access. Broadband access is expected to narrow the digital divide between Africa and wealthier geopolitical regions and is also expected to be a major advantage to many local industries, particularly those based on offshoring.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Seacom 'no comment' on FibreCo 'acquisition' talks". TechCentral (South Africa). 23 August 2018. Retrieved 14 December 2018.
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ [2]
  4. ^ Investment structure
  5. ^ "Seacom 'no comment' on FibreCo 'acquisition' talks". TechCentral (South Africa). 23 August 2018. Retrieved 14 December 2018.
  6. ^ Seacom upgrades
  7. ^ [3]

External links[edit]