Facebook is partnering with MTN, Orange, Vodafone, GlobalConnect and China International in what their titling the 2Africa project – “the most comprehensive subsea cable to serve the African continent and Middle East region”.
The parties have appointed Alcatel Submarine Networks (“ASN”) to build the cable in a fully funded project which they expect to “greatly enhance” connectivity on the continent.
At 37,000km long, 2Africa will be one of the world’s largest subsea cable projects and will interconnect Europe (eastward via Egypt), the Middle East (via Saudi Arabia), and 21 landings in 16 countries in Africa.
The parties working on the cable expect to commission it around 2023/4 and say it will deliver more than the total combined capacity of all subsea cables serving the continent at the moment.
2Africa will deliver much needed internet capacity and reliability across large parts of Africa, supplement the fast-growing capacity demand in the Middle East and underpin the further growth of 4G, 5G and fixed broadband access for hundreds of millions of people.
- In countries where the 2Africa cable will land, service providers will obtain capacity in carrier-neutral data centres or open-access cable landing stations on a fair and equitable basis. This will support healthy internet ecosystem development by facilitating greatly improved accessibility for businesses and consumers alike.
- The 2Africa parties and Airtel have signed an agreement with Telecom Egypt to provide a completely new crossing linking the Red Sea and the Mediterranean, the first in over a decade.
This is a pretty exciting development and improving access to connectivity on the continent is on the radar of a number of Silicon valley giants. Google has Project Loon which will see the company partner with African telecoms providers to provide internet access in remote areas where conventional infrastructure isn’t feasible. The project is currently being trialled in Kenya and is definitely more unorthodox compared to 2Africa.