A long-term plan for the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), an initiative to make Pakistan a regional economic power by 2030, is expected to be made public soon.

Pakistan Today has an excellent overview on CPEC and its goals. 

What does it mean for the submarine cable industry?  New submarine cables figure prominently in CPEC, although Pakistan’s government had, even before CPEC took shape, concerns over the current state of the country’s international cable network. 

In August 2017, the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA), the country’s telecom regulator, issued a consultation document on the state of the cable network.  It said that Pakistan was under-connected compared to other Asian countries in terms of the number of international submarine cables landing there, as well as in the diversity of landing points.  PTA proposed requiring new international gateway licensees to build at least one submarine cable within 10 years of receipt of the license.

Shortly after the document was released, two of Pakistan’s cables went down, causing major economic losses

The talks between Pakistan and China that led to CPEC have already resulted in a new submarine cable project – the PEACE cable announced in October.  Chinese companies Tropic Science Co., Ltd., China-ASEAN Information Harbor Co., Ltd. are the developers and Huawei Marine will supply the system.  The cable will connect Pakistan with East Africa and use a newly-built cable station in Pakistan. 

Pakistan is the 6th most populous country in the world, but is 25th in terms of GDP (PPP).  If the country’s economy grows as is hoped for by CPEC, Pakistan will be a submarine cable market worth monitoring over the next decade.