Algeria’s Post, Information and Communications Technology Ministry has issued a consultancy tender for surveying the route of a submarine telecommunications cable to link the North African country to Spain.

The submarine fibre-optic link will run between Oran in Algeria to Valencia in Spain. The closing date for bids is 22 February 2012.

Increasing demand for capacity has pushed up the need for more submarine cables across the world. The market is growing at a rate of $1.3bn a year to meet the 50 per cent telecommunications traffic growth year-on-year.

Part of Algeria’s communications demands are met by the SEA-ME-WE-4 cable that links India to Europe through the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region.

The Mena region is at a strategic location for the market. Since most of the world’s content lies in North America and India is the fastest growing consumer of data, the Middle East becomes the vital link in the chain.

Nine per cent of the world’s communications traffic goes through the Middle East, yet only 3 per cent of global traffic comes from the region, so it plays a more important role in transporting this traffic.

“We will see enormous capacity that will have to come through the Middle East. Traffic is going to grow faster and greater. We will see investment in the region and it will become more of a hub,” says Ed McCormack, vice-president of international accounts and submarine systems at US-based network solutions company Ciena.

Sector regulations have also loosened over the years as telecommunications markets have become more open to competition and regulators have brought to an end monopolies in almost all Mena countries. The region’s telecommunications market, however, is still highly regulated compared with other parts of the world.

“It has more to do with politics, regulation and ease of doing business,” says managing partner at US-based Pioneer Consulting, Keith Schofield. “Some carriers see difficulties in getting cable routes on land, so they are [laying submarine cables around] South Africa.”