G-7 to Support Deep-Sea Cable Network for Emerging Nations

G-7, World Bank, ITU partner for undersea cables in emerging nations, addressing geopolitical risks & challenging China's role.By Mayumi Hirosawa and Ryohei Yasoshima, Nikkei staff writers
April 26, 2023

TOKYO — Digital and technology ministers from the Group of Seven leading industrialized nations will adopt a plan for building a network of undersea communication cables to serve developing and emerging countries, Nikkei has learned.

The G-7 ministers meet this weekend in Takasaki, a city northwest of Tokyo. With a common understanding of the need for a free and open digital infrastructure, they will outline an expanded framework for supporting developing and emerging nations in an action plan and joint statement.

The group will work together on this effort with the World Bank, the International Telecommunication Union and private sector telecom operators. G-7 nations and international institutions will provide money for underwater cable projects that have been unable to receive sufficient investment from private interests.

Underwater cables date to the 19th century and are considered the arteries of the global communication network. Japan relies on deep-sea cables for 99% of its international telecommunication needs.

The issue of secure routes for the cables has taken on urgency due to the geopolitical risks posed by Russia's invasion of Ukraine and the frictions between the U.S. and China. Laying down undersea cables for emerging nations also has become a political priority for Beijing.

Last year, Senegal connected to the island nation of Cape Verde through a submarine cable. Cape Verde is a cable hub linking African nations to Europe and South America.

Leading the Senegal-Cape Verde project was HMN Technologies, a former subsidiary of Chinese telecom equipment giant Huawei Technologies.

Amid China's activities in this field, and in the interest of economic security, the G-7 will show its willingness to support digital infrastructure for emerging and developing countries that share democratic values.

“It's critical to strengthening involvement in developing telecommunication infrastructure for developing nations,” Takeaki Matsumoto, Japan's minister for internal affairs and communications, told Nikkei in an interview. “As [this year's G-7] host nation, we intend to take the lead on this issue.”

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