Americas: LatAm leads innovation

Americas: road by the windmill farm

Canada dominates PPP activity, while infra opportunities are on the rise in the US. In LatAm, the spotlight is on digital and electricity interconnectivity.

 American countries ranked
#5Canada
#7United States
#20Chile
#26Colombia
#27Mexico
#32Peru
#45Brazil

Digital interconnectivity

Mega interconnectivity projects in LatAm are creating the digital infrastructure of the future.  Grupo Gtd, a Chilean telecommunications company, is installing a 3,500km-long submarine fibre optic network from the north to the south of Chile. The new digital connectivity will allow further investment to exploit the country as a gateway to Colombia and Peru, allowing tech companies to expand their operations in the country. In April 2019, Google completed a 10,000km subsea cable connecting California to Chile.  

On the other side of the continent, Brazil is working on the innovative 9,300km EllaLink subsea cable system aiming to link Brazil with Portugal and Spain. In May 2018, equity fund Marguerite joined the project as a financial sponsor. The project constitutes the first transatlantic system connecting Europe and Latin America without having to go through the US.  

In July 2019, Chile also advanced on its plans to develop a 24,000km fibre-optic cable to connect South America with Asia Pacific – Argentina, Brazil and Ecuador have expressed interests to participate, after a USD 3m feasibility study agreement with the Development Bank of Latin America.

Latin America re interconnectivity projects.

Case study: EllaLink: breaking the status quo

  

Large fibre optic projects were typically the preserve of tech giants but European equity fund Marguerite II broke the mould by sponsoring the cross-continental EllaLink submarine cable network.

Broadband connection speeds between Europe and Latin America have grown significantly to 10 Gbps in 2018, but once operational EllaLink will improve speeds by 60%. 

 

 

 

Connection speeds between Europe and Latin America have grown 1,600% since 2003 but are restricted by current interconnectors.

EllaLink was first conceived in 2012 as a next-generation submarine cable route spanning 10,000km of the Atlantic Ocean floor bed, linking the Brazilian cities of São Paulo and Fortaleza with Lisbon, Portugal.

The Marguerite II Infrastructure Fund stepped in as an equity investor in May 2018, a landmark venture considering that global internet infrastructure is dominated by a handful of US, mostly tech, companies. By January 2019, Marguerite reached financial close on the EUR 150m project.

The cost of financing is, in part, being sourced from pre-payments made by anchor tenants, including Building the Europe Link, with Latin America consortium (BELLA) – comprising regional data networks GÉANT, RedCLARA and the Latin America National Research and Education Networks – Cape Verde Telecoms and the Madeira Electricity Company.

BELLA, one of the anchor tenants, is an EU-funded programme providing longterm interconnectivity between Europe and Latin America. Since their interconnection in 2003, shareholders GÉANT and RedCLARA have seen connection speeds between the two continents grow by 1,600%. However, greater flow of data is restricted by the limited capacity of existing and indirect interconnector routes.

Subsea routes between Europe and Latin America have typically depended on connections to North America. The EllaLink system will bypass North America with its direct connection providing significantly lower latency (essentially the delay in the transmission of data) than existing routes.

Plans for the system include an additional branch route connecting to French Guyana, the CariLink system connecting French Guyana and Columbia, and branches to Africa via Cape Verde and Mauritania.