The rapid growth in internet usage in Africa represents a significant opportunity for some of the world’s largest tech firms. With internet penetration rates estimated at an average of 24%, it remains the only continent where over half the total population is without internet access.
China Mobile International, Facebook, MTN GlobalConnect, Orange, stc, Telecom Egypt, Vodafone and WIOCC are betting on this as they partner to build the most comprehensive subsea cable to serve the African continent and Middle East region.
The companies announced today that they will partner to build 2Africa, a 37,000km long subsea cable to interconnect Europe (eastward via Egypt), the Middle East (via Saudi Arabia), and 21 landings in 16 countries in Africa.
The undersea cable, to be known as 2Africa, will be one of the world’s largest.
“Improving connectivity for Africa is a significant step which lays the groundwork for increased digitalisation across the continent,” said Diego Gutierrez, Vodacom International Business Chief Officer.
“2Africa will give local businesses and consumers a better online experience while more connectivity between Africa, Europe and the Middle East will help to build a wider, more inclusive digital society across the globe. We’re delighted to work with our partners in the project to help deliver this.”
The 2Africa cable has been designed to improve resilience and maximise performance, including the option of a seamless optical crossing between East Africa and Europe.
The 2Africa cable will implement a new technology, SDM1 from ASN, allowing deployment of up to 16 fibre pairs instead of the eight fibre pairs supported by older technologies, bringing much greater and more cost-effective capacity. The cable will incorporate optical switching technology to enable flexible management of bandwidth. Cable burial depth has also been increased by 50% compared to older systems, and cable routing will avoid locations of known subsea disturbance, all helping to ensure the highest levels of availability.
“The launch of 2Africa enables us to offer our customers seamless connection between Africa and Europe, together with our SEA-ME-WE 5 and AAE-1 subsea cable resources to further extend to Asia, which is an important milestone of our global development strategy,” said Jessica Gu, Director & Chief Technology Officer of China Mobile International.
“The utmost capacity and faster transmission allows us to satisfy the needs of African nations today and in the future, reflecting our firm commitment to building a global digital life.”