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A “Crazy” Idea to Lay MainOne’s 7,000-km-long Undersea Cable from Nigeria to Portugal Pays Off

In 2008 when Funke Opeke first proposed building the MainOne undersea cable from Portugal to Nigeria, which was acquired this week for $320-million, people called her “crazy.” But the savvy Nigerian expat – who was an executive director for Verizon during her 20-year career working for US telecoms firms – refused to believe them. When Nasdaq-listed Equinix bought the company that has expanded into data centres and terrestrial fibre, and also operates in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire, she must surely be having the last laugh. Apart from its three data centers, MainOne has laid a 1,200km terrestrial fibre network in the south of Nigeria. In the decade since, the company has grown from a startup providing internet to Nigerian businesses, homes, internet service providers, and large telecom operators like MTN and Airtel, to a pan-African company covering 10 countries. Equinix has a $71-billion and already market capitalization owns 237 data centres in 27 countries.