New Cables Will Kick-Start Africa's New Broadband Era, Pyramid Research Finds

Sep 3, 2009

Total broadband adoption in Africa will increase at a CAGR of 28 percent through 2013 as new undersea cables boost Africa's international bandwidth, reducing the number of coastal countries without any cable access from 19 to one, according to a new report from Pyramid Research (, the telecom research arm of the Light Reading Communications Network (

Africa Connects: Undersea Cables to Drive an African Broadband Boom describes in detail the upcoming evolution of Africa's international bandwidth market, as five major new cables and a host of smaller ones are deployed and launched over the next three years. The 15-page report then discusses how this increase in capacity will affect African broadband end users, driving adoption of fixed and mobile broadband by reducing tariffs by up to 72 percent. Finally, it examines how this changed environment will affect African broadband operators and looks in detail at two key markets, Egypt and Kenya, to see how their contrasting regulatory environments will affect the impact of the newly available bandwidth. Download an excerpt of this report here:

The biggest change to African telecom markets over the next three years will be invisible. "Twelve new undersea cables planned for launch between third quarter 2009 and mid-2011 will remove the most serious obstacle that has historically prevented operators from taking advantage of Africa's great unmet demand for broadband services," says Dearbhla McHenry, analyst at Pyramid Research and author of the report. "As a result, the cables will increase Africa's total international bandwidth from about 6 Tbps to as much as 34 Tbps and will reduce the number of coastal countries without any cable access from 19 to one," she adds.

"Through the end of second quarter 2009, 40 percent of continental Africa's 47 nations had no direct cable connections at all, forcing operators to rely on expensive satellite links," McHenry explains. "The combination of heavy reliance on satellite and monopoly control of local access to undersea cables meant that prices were also astronomical: Rates for SAT-3, for example, are about US$4,500 to $12,000 per Mbps per month, which is more than 20 times more expensive than bandwidth prices in the U.S.," she says.

The quintupling of Africa's international bandwidth will support the upcoming boom in African broadband adoption by increasing capacity and bringing down prices for end users. "By early 2011, we expect that more than half of all African markets will have 3G, while broadband coverage is increasing daily via both wireless and wireline technologies," McHenry comments. "We forecast that total broadband adoption in Africa will increase at a CAGR of 28 percent from 2009 to 2013, as increased competition in the international bandwidth market brings down prices and as new cables support the corresponding increase in demand."

Africa Connects: Undersea Cables to Drive an African Broadband Boom is part of Pyramid Research's Africa and the Middle East Telecom Insider report series. This report is priced at $595 and can be purchased online here: or by contacting Amalia Vega via email at

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Pyramid Research ( offers practical solutions to the complex demands our clients face in the telecommunications, media and technology industries. Our analysis is uniquely positioned at the intersection of emerging markets, emerging technologies and emerging business models, powered by the bottom-up methodology of our market forecasts for over 100 countries - a distinction that has remained unmatched for more than 25 years. As the telecom research arm of the Light Reading Communications Network, Pyramid Research works with Heavy Reading, providing the communications industry's most comprehensive market data, trusted research and insightful technology analysis.

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