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 Europe and Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC). The EllaLink fibre-optic cable will significantly improve the collaboration between researchers and academics across the two continents thanks to digital transformation.
BELLA marks a turning point in the relationship between the EU and LAC – it is the first time that a direct, high-speed and secure data connection has been established between the regions. It is a flagship initiative of the Global Gateway strategy to boost smart, clean and secure links in digital, energy and transport sectors and to strengthen health, education and research systems across the world.
A digital bridge between Europe and Latin America
The construction of the cable was finalised in March 2021 and it was officially inaugurated on 1 June during the 2021 Digital Assembly, 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 is a precursor to the launch of the EU-LAC Digital Alliance.
Scope and objectives
Two BELLA projects will help to reduce the digital divide with and within Latin America and enhance cooperation on research and innovation between the EU and Latin America.
A 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 and works were completed by mid-2021.
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 equal access to intercontinental services for all research and education end users in Latin American.
BELLA-T 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.
Open science and knowledge-sharing
BELLA will contribute to the creation of a common research area between the European Union and Latin America. The first to benefit will be national education and research networks (14 in Latin America), the educational and scientific communities of Latin America and Europe.
The programme will benefit 3,000 institutions – with the potential to reach up to 12,000 – and will support over 65 million students. The Latin American population and economic actors in the region will also benefit through improved speed and reduced costs of internet connections.
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.
Benefitting from space programmes
BELLA will also be an enabler for Latin America to benefit from European space programmes.
The cable will also have a particular impact on earth observation services, especially the , 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.
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.
Total budget €53 700 000
EU contribution €26 500 000
Duration August 2016 to December 2021
Implementing organisations Regional Research and Education Networks GÉANT (Europe) and RedCLARA (Latin America) and the National Research and Education Networks (NREN) of Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal and Spain
Funding instrument Development Cooperation Instrument (DCI)