St Helena Government is today pleased to announce the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with South Atlantic Express (SAEx) to provide a branching spur to St Helena from a submarine cable between South Africa and South America.

The agreement covers the construction of the cable to St Helena and a 25 year secure right of use.

This development is a significant component of the Digital Strategy and will see benefits across the Island including in telemedicine, education, closing the digital divide and environmental benefits along with enabling quicker and cheaper connections for households and businesses. St Helena Government is also confident of job creation through the development of ground stations.

Governor Lisa Phillips said:

“This cable, when combined with the Airport and the plans to produce energy from renewables, is St Helena’s passport to prosperity. We will be able to do much more on St Helena with unlimited broadband, but it is the capacity of the cable relative to St Helena’s demand that is a key opportunity. Our remoteness has always been a constraint, but here we can turn it to an advantage. SHG is working hard to put this in place in the next three years and this is the start.”

SAEx CEO Dr Rosalind Thomas said:

Submarine fibre optic systems are a proven development enabler, not just of economic activity but also of digital technology-based economic activity. SAEx is pleased to be working with the SHG, and is delighted that we were selected to help them achieve their ambitions for a technology-based economy on the island.

SAEx is in the final stages of selecting a system supplier, and will utilise the latest digital technology on its main paths domestically within South Africa and from South Africa to Brazil and to the USA; the link to St Helena will have full access to the routes and opportunities that this opens up for the island.”

The cable will be ready for service in 2020 and will see St Helena linking with a number of multinational organisations.

Chief Secretary, Roy Burke, concluded:

“This is a significant milestone in our attempts to secure better internet access for the people and businesses of St Helena. We still have a long way to go before the project becomes a reality but we are all working towards a common goal. I am grateful for the work done by the working group here led by Paul McGinnety, to Dax Richards for his work with the European Development Fund (EDF) and for the support of DFID in helping us make the business case.”

SHG is seeking EDF funding for the spur and IRU, and the process is well underway to secure these funds.

See map of SAEx – Phase 1

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SHG
27 October 2017

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