West Africa Regional Communications Infrastructure Program

Supporting Gambia to sustainably use its connections to the Africa Coast to Europe (ACE) international submarine cable and landing station.

KCL + GAMBIA

Description of Project: The Government of Gambia is one of the consortium investors in the Africa Coast to Europe (ACE) international submarine cable that runs along the west coast of Africa between France and South Africa through its Gambia Submarine Cable Company. Gambia wanted to optimize use of her ACE landing station by selling spare capacity to other neighbouring countries in order to achieve financial sustainability of its operations. The purpose of this assignment was to assess the connectivity offer at the ACE landing station in the Gambia, identify potential markets in the sub region for exporting (unused) international capacity, review potential connectivity routes and provide strategic options in terms of routing, marketing and selling the spare international capacity to neighbouring countries.

Objective

The objective was to deliver a strategic report to the Government of Gambia covering a number of critical aspects that included:

  1. A detailed description of the connectivity offer at the ACE landing station in the Gambia covering both current levels and projects for used and unused capacity.
  2. Identification of the potential markets in the sub region for exporting unused international capacity held by the Gambian ACE landing station while taking into account other competitors offering similar unused capacity.
  3. Assessment and mapping of different connectivity routes that linked or could link The Gambia to identified sub-regional markets with estimates for any new construction.
  4. Provide strategic options and recommendations to the government of the Gambia regarding the sale of unused international capacity after undertaking a cost-benefit analysis of different routes and markets.

Approach & Results

The consulting organised 4 missions to the Gambia and visited a number of neighbouring countries for meetings with the client and high-level interviews with licensed telecom operators and internet service providers. The team collected and analysed data from various sources relating to current national and international connectivity in the Gambia, analysed the legal and regulatory framework in the telecom sector as it relates to network interconnection at both national and sub-regional levels (i.e. right of ways, cross-borders transit of international capacity, etc.) and performed a regional capacity and infrastructure assessment to identify potential new markets in the sub region for export of excess international capacity held at the Gambian ACE landing station.

We benchmarked the ACE landing station against other similar and competing efforts in the region and mapped existing connectivity infrastructure (including both telecom infrastructure and fibre optic facilities owned by utilities companies like highways, railways and power transmission at national and sub-regional levels and estimated costs of construction of missing connectivity segments (new deployment and rehabilitation of existing infrastructure).

We proposed a new business model for the ACE that takes into account both internal dynamics within the Gambia and the regional complexity, including detailed actions plan for the next steps. In collaboration with the client, we organised a validation workshop with various stakeholders in the Gambia and used their feedback to finalise and submit a project report to the client.