BELLA - Building the Europe Link to Latin America
The BELLA (Building the Europe Links with Latin America) Programme provides support for long-term interconnectivity of European and Latin American research and education communities, significantly improving the collaboration betweenresearchers and academics across the two regions. This is achieved through a fibre-optic cable EllaLink, a new 6,000 km submarine cable bringing the two continents closer than ever.
The BELLA Programme brings unprecedented opportunities for scientific, cultural and business exchange and has the potential to facilitate the sharing of high-performance computing and Earth observation data between the two regions.
BELLA marks a turning point in the relationship between the EU and Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) and brings the two regions closer than ever thanks to digital transformation. For the first time, a direct high-speed and secure data connection is established between the EU and LAC.
To bring this large-scale initiative to life, the BELLA consortium was established and more than €53 million was deployed through a public-private partnership of stakeholders on both sides of the Atlantic. The BELLA consortium is composed of 11 European and Latin American research and education networks from Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Germany, Italy, Portugal and Spain, together with the regional networks RedCLARA and GÉANT. The EU is the largest investor in the initiative.
The BELLA-S Project fulfils the data sharing needs of the EU and LAC research and education communities. The BELLA-T Project ensures that capacity is evenly distributed across the Latin American region, and enhances equal access to intercontinental services for all research and education users.
The construction of the cable was finalised in March 2021 and will be officially inaugurated during the Digital Assembly 2021 (on the 1 June), jointly organised by the European Commission and the Portuguese Presidency.
The operationalisation of the transatlantic cable delivers on the political promise of a digital bridge between Europe and Latin America and inspires EU-LAC excellence in private and public research, innovation and education institutions. The arrival of the BELLA cable in Brazil, EU’s strategic partner, is a symbolic milestone of the strong foundation of international digital partnerships set out in Europe’s Digital Decade targets.
The launch of the cable will be a precursor to the launch of the EU-LAC Digital Alliance, where the cable will become a central component thanks to its impact on future relations between Europe and Latin America and the Caribbean.
Scope and objectives
The overall objective is to reduce the digital divide with and within Latin America and enhance cooperation on research and innovation between the EU and Latin America. In order to achieve this, the programme aims to realise the following:
- BELLA-S: new submarine cable will provide for the transatlantic data-sharing needs of the European and Latin American research and education communities. The contract with ELLALINK was signed in 2018, with works to be completed by mid 2021.
- BELLA-T: A terrestrial component extending the high-capacity cable to academic research networks in Latin America, complementing each other´s areas of research. It will enhance capillarity and equal access to intercontinental services for all research and education end users in Latin American.
The BELLA-T project focuses on South America. It aims to connect Brazil, through the cities of Fortaleza, Sao Paulo and Porto Alegre; Argentina, through Buenos Aires; Chile, through Santiago; Ecuador, through Guayaquil; Colombia, through Bogotá and Cúcuta to the border with Venezuela, and Colombia via Cartagena.
BELLA will contribute to the creation of a common research area between the European Union and Latin America. The first to benefit will therefore be national education and research networks (14 in Latin America), the educational and scientific communities of Latin America and Europe.
It will benefit 3,000 institutions, with a potential to reach up to 12,000, and support over 65 million students. Furthermore, the Latin American population and the economic actors of the region will benefit by improving the speed and reducing the costs of internet connection. BELLA will also be an enabler for Latin America to benefit from the European space programmes services.
The benefits of this undersea connection will be felt in areas including international cooperation, regional development, security and space.
- The cable will boost business exchanges and enable companies in Europe and Latin America to further develop existing cooperation, for example in fields such as high performance computing. As a direct link between the two continents without intermediate connection points, it will also provide high levels of data privacy.
- The BELLA Programme, coordinated by the BELLA Consortium, will provide capacity to connect European and Latin American research and education communities, supporting open science and knowledge-sharing.
- The cable will also have a particular impact on Earth Observation services, especially the Copernicus programme, allowing a much larger volume of Earth Observation data and information to be shared and at higher speed, thereby bolstering its uptake by users on both sides of the Atlantic.
- The initiative also supports improved digital interconnectivity between Latin American countries, and will contribute to regional and inter-regional integration. It will underpin the EU-CELAC (Community of Latin American and Caribbean States) partnership by enhancing cooperation on interconnectivity, science, research, innovation, and technology, as well as higher education.