By DEG

With German support the submarine cable “Main One“ to West Africa commenced operations at the beginning of July 2010. Thereby the communication options via internet and telephone in the region are considerably improved. DEG – Deutsche Investitions- und Entwicklungsgesellschaft mbH, provided Main One Cable Company (Main One) a quasi-equity loan to the amount of 20 million US-dollars to lay and operate the cable. The African Development Bank (AfDB), which contributed 55 million US-dollars, arranged the joint financing of the two development finance institutions. Further lenders are two Nigerian commercial banks providing 45 million US-dollars. The total investment volume comes up to 240 million US-dollars. The owners of Main One are Main Street Technologies, a Nigerian start-up, which was founded in 2006 for the purpose of this project, and four further investors.

The submarine cable “Main One“ stretches over almost 7,000 kilometres between Portugal and Accra in Ghana and Lagos in Nigeria. The fibre optic connection is accessible to all mobile network operators as well as internet service providers. So-called “branching units“ offer the possibility of connecting Côte d’Ivoire, the Canary Islands, Morocco and Senegal to the net, which is planned to be realised within the course of the project. For a second phase of the project it is furthermore intended to extend the cable onto South Africa.

The communication infrastructure in West Africa has so far been little developed. Low-priced broadband connections are one of the major catalysts boosting economic growth and the success of African enterprises. The project will step up the capacity for the international and regional data transfer by more than ten times and thus lower the cost for telephone calls and internet use. In recognition of the developmental and economic significance of the project, the magazine Project Finance distinguished the financing as the “African Infrastructure Deal of the Year“.

The financing of private-sector investments in Africa is a focus of DEG, member of KfW Bankengruppe (KfW banking group): in 2009 it committed 266 million euros there, which for the first time corresponded to more than one-quarter of its new business. On the African continent, DEG is represented with offices in Ghana, Kenya and South Africa.