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European Investment Bank to fund $374m Portugal-Egypt subsea cable

The cable is one of the three currently under construction that will land in Portugal – including Google and Facebook systems - as Europe’s largest hyperscale campus gears up for construction.

By João Marques Lima

Co-founder and Editor, The Tech Capital

4 Mins

January 13, 2022 | 2:00 AM GMT

European Investment Bank to fund $374m Portugal-Egypt subsea cable

Hugo Santos Mendes, Assistant Secretary of State and Communications. Source: Portuguese Government

AFR-IX Telecom said it is closer to getting approval from the Portuguese State to moor its new subsea cable Medusa Submarine Cable System in Sines and the Greater Lisbon region.

The cable is designed to be 8,700Km long and will land at the multi-billion Dollar hyperscale data centre campus Start Campus in Sines with a second location in Carcavelos in the outskirts of the Portuguese capital.

On the Egyptian side, the system will land in Port Said. In between, it will land in Barcelona, Torreguadiaro, Zahara and Alicante in Spain; Tétouan and Nador in Morocco; Bizerte in Tunisia; Collo in Algeria; Marseille in France; Mazara del Vallo in Italy; Yeroskipou in Cyprus; and Tympaki in Greece.

Projected to cost €326 million (US$374 million), the project will be financed in part by the European Investment Bank which will contribute €163 million ($186.5 million), according to Norman Albi, CEO of AFR-IX in an interview with Portuguese national newspaper Expresso.

“There is a combination of factors that lead us to invest in this cable: in addition to the fact that there are some submarine cables in the Mediterranean that are reaching the end of their life cycle (and that need alternatives), it is known that the telecommunications traffic generated in Africa has grown at an average of 55% per year,” he said.


Medusa Submarine Cable System. Source: AFR-IX Telecom

Portugal has in the past 24 months gained international attention from the digital infrastructure community with several multi-million Dollar projects announced.

The Medusa submarine cable is just the latest to be announced, following the opening of the EllaLink subsea system that also lands in Sines.

In addition, it is known that both Google and Facebook are each laying cable systems set to land on Portuguese shores. These include Equiano and 2África respectively.

The cables are also driving an influx of data centre investments. The flagship announcement of the $4.2 billion Start Campus project in Sines ended up being one of the largest capital commitments globally in 2021.

As of December 29, 2021, the first nine hectares of land have been passed over to Start Campus with construction works on the first module of the campus set to begin in the coming weeks.

Based on the projects already known, Hugo Santos Mendes, Assistant Secretary of State and Communications, told the audience at the conference “Meetings at ZILS: Sines Tech, EU-Atlantic Data Gateway Platform” that took place in Sines this week: “Portugal is in a position to help Europe become the geostrategic centre of the data economy.”

He added: “Today it is known that the European digital economy depends on great internal and external connectivity. To increase it, this [the undersea cables] is a requirement for us to be more attractive and have a more agile economy.”

For Santos Mendes and the Government, Portugal has the potential, due to its geographical position of being the “gateway to and the exit door” for data in Europe, which has “the potential to be a world hub, if it makes the best use of its geography and legal framework”.

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Co-founder and Editor, The Tech Capital

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