The West Africa Cable System (WACS), a submarine communications cable linking South Africa with the United Kingdom, recently landed in Yserfontein, South Africa. According to South African telecommunications provider, Telkom, the $650-million system will increase South Africa’s broadband capacity by more than 500 gigabits per second.

The cable system which is about 14,000km in length is the largest (in capacity) to land on the continent and will serve other African countries such as Namibia, Angola, Congo-Kinshasa, Congo-Brazzaville, Cameroon, Nigeria, Togo, Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire and Cape Verde among others. WACS is owned and operated  by a consortium of telecommunications operators including Neotel, Telkom South Africa, the MTN Group and Gateway Communications among others. MTN is the project’s biggest investor with a $90 million stake.

west africa cable systems South Africas broadband capacity set to double as West Africa Cable System lands

With a capacity of about 5.2 Terabits per second (Tbps), the cable will provide South Africa with more capacity than the current capacity of all other undersea fibre-optic cables serving South Africa put together. (South Africa is currently serviced by three other undersea fibre-optic cables namely EASSy, SEACOM and SAT3/SAFE).

“Africa has until now been a cyclist on the information superhighway,” Karel Pienaar, Managing Director for MTN, told AFP.

“We sincerely believe that the commercialisation of WACS and other submarine cables will set the stage for a mobile revolution that will enhance the quality of life for millions of people across the continent,” Pienaar said in a statement.

The cable will be ready for commercial use in the first quarter of 2012.