Letter to a friend:
“I lost the North!”


My dear Friend from South-Africa

I lost the north!

I was recently attending the retirement party of a good friend of mine. The participants were all members of the submarine cable industry, mainly French but also British and Italians, in various roles and positions. Talking to someone, a glass in my hand, I could hear a group of engineer, few meters from me, chatting about Africa and mentioning “France-South Africa”. This sounded natural to me since ACE’s C&MA and supply contract had just been executed few days before at the Eiffel Tower! Quite normal that a 17.000Km project which will  connect 23 countries, some for the very first time namely Mauritania, Gambia, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Sao Tomé & Principe, Equatorial Guinea, very logical that such an event be the subject of very exciting conversations within our community . And South-Africa has been somewhat at the heart of our activity with projects such as WASC, Main one, EASSy and Seacom!

Walking around and shaking hands here and there to the many people I know, enjoying the friendly atmosphere, I passed by a group of Marine people based in the UK who were clearly speaking of USA-England  and also Germany-England , guessing I supposed about the possible dates for these very high capacity projects .

I accepted few more glasses of champagne, ate so more cheese toasts, happy  to see and hear all these guys so dedicated to our activity, so enthusiastic about it.

When I ended up saying hello to my two Italians ex-colleagues, I did interrupt their chat in their mother language where I had recognized “Italy-Mexico” and also “Argentina-Spain”! They laughed loudly when I told them “Eh gentlemen are you dreaming of a possible Columbus 4?”. Then I heard in the noise of the crowd “Japan- Netherlands” and “South Korea-Germany”. This was obviously referring to the “reborn” of an Asia-Europe cable concept. This recently announced project would take the shorter northern route, the polar route, thanks to the climate change. Still a long way to go, I told to myself. Then someone came to me “Hi Jean! I guess you are not too proud of the poor behavior of the French team “. I brutally realized that they were all chatting about the soccer world cup which is running in South Africa!! Stupid old man!!  I was hearing what I liked to hear!

Back home that evening, not too proud of myself, my mobile phone rang:

- “Hi Bernard!” (Bernard is one of my best client, looking regularly to my advices)
- “Jean, Greece-Libya, does that ring a bell to you?
- Oh no Bernard! I have lost interest in this world cup !!
- What happen to you, Jean? I am speaking of a real cable project!
- Sorry Bernard, I’ll investigate!”

I decided that it was time for me to go for a sleep at the end of a day not to remember!!

My dear friend from down under I have lost the north!

Jean Devos

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