Climate change and digital connectivity, the major challenges of the Euro-Mediterranean region, under discussion at MedaWeek
Digitization, sustainable transition, and the promotion of women's entrepreneurship are some of the main challenges present on the agendas of many countries in the Euro-Mediterranean region. All of these topics were discussed at the MedaWeek economic forum (Mediterranean Week of Economic Leaders) held last month in Barcelona, a gathering that brought together experts and leaders from the major institutions of the Mediterranean to address the concerns affecting the present and future of the region.
If we were to highlight the main issue affecting both shores that border the Mediterranean Sea, climate change is undoubtedly one of the most concerning issues due to the natural disasters it brings about. Another major shared challenge is digital connectivity, and in this regard, the future of the region depends on improving connections through submarine fiber optic cables, which can contribute to strengthening connections with the Middle East and North Africa from the Mediterranean. Furthermore, if we focus on the local level, in the case of cities like Barcelona, it represents a significant opportunity for economic growth, since its positioning as a digital hub, as we are already witnessing, makes it a pole of attraction for data centers and the landing of submarine cables. In fact, it is estimated that for every million euros invested in this field, there is an impact of seven million euros on the local GDP, along with associated job creation.
The Medusa cable takes center stage at MedaWeek
In one of the sessions at MedaWeek, this issue was addressed, emphasizing the need to invest in data centers as an essential tool to continue progressing towards the technological transfer of the Euro-Mediterranean region. The relevance of submarine cables as a means to boost the economy among the countries in this geographical area was underscored.
I had the opportunity to present the progress of our project, the Medusa Submarine Cable System, during the event. This submarine fiber optic cable will span the entire Mediterranean, covering a length of over 8,000 kilometers. The cable is set to enhance connections on both shores of the Mediterranean, and we have recently announced an agreement for Medusa to land on the coast of Libya. This connection is expected to improve data flow along the North African coastal area from 2025, linking with the Libyan landing stations in Tripoli and Benghazi. With the addition of Libya to Medusa's route, the cable will achieve a significant milestone in connectivity between Southern Europe and North Africa, connecting 11 countries: Portugal, Morocco, Spain, France, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Italy, Greece, Cyprus, and Egypt.
As I explained in the MedaWeek forum, the current situation of the submarine cable sector is influenced by challenges primarily of four types: commercial, financial, technical, and administrative. On the financial front, it is not easy to secure sufficient capital and debt for the construction of these infrastructures. In this context, I emphasized the significant role that institutions like the European Investment Bank (EIB) have been playing for the past 2 or 3 years, supporting projects that are strategic for the region, as seen with Medusa. Another complexity in the sector, aside from economic resources, is the need for the right human capital to build these infrastructures. Lastly, there is the hurdle of regulatory difficulties in obtaining the necessary permits. In all these matters, continuous efforts will be required to make progress and achieve success.
What MedaWeek made clear is that cooperation and improvement of relations among different Mediterranean countries involve continuing to promote connectivity, the driving force behind economic development in the region as a whole.
Article by Damien Bertrand, COO of Medusa Submarine Cable System
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