Global telecoms industry to transform Africa connectivity

China Mobile International, Facebook, MTN GlobalConnect, Orange, stc, Telecom Egypt, Vodafone and WIOCC join together to transform Africa’s connectivity.

In a fully funded project, China Mobile International, Facebook, MTN GlobalConnect, Orange, stc, Telecom Egypt, Vodafone and WIOCC will partner to build “the most comprehensive subsea cable to serve the African continent and the Middle East region” known as 2Africa. 

The eight companies have appointed Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN) to build the 37,000km cable which will have a design capacity of up to 180Tbps on key parts of the system, which will greatly improve the connectivity across Africa and the Middle East.

The cable will interconnect Europe (eastward via Egypt), the Middle East (via Saudi Arabia), and 21 landings in 16 countries in Africa, and is expected to go live in April 2023, to deliver more than the total combined capacity of all subsea cables serving Africa today. 

The aim of 2Africa is to deliver the much needed internet capacity and improve reliability across large parts of Africa, in order to supplement the fast growing capacity demand in the Middle East, as well as supporting the growth of 4G, 5G and fixed broadband access in the region.  

“We’re excited to be collaborating with our 2Africa partners on the most comprehensive subsea cable that will serve the continent,” said Najam Ahmad, Vice President, Network Infrastructure at Facebook. “2Africa is a major element of our ongoing investment in Africa to bring more people online to a faster internet.  We’ve seen first-hand the positive impact that increased connectivity has on communities, from education to healthcare. We know that economies flourish when there is widely accessible internet for businesses. 2Africa is a key pillar supporting this tremendous internet expansion as part of Africa’s surging digital economy.”

The 2Africa cable has been designed to improve resilience and maximise performance, as well as providing a seamless optical crossing between East Africa and Europe. In addition the parties of 2Africa and Airtel have signed an agreement with Telecom Egypt to provide a new crossing linking the Red Sea and the Mediterranean, the first in over a decade.

“MTN GlobalConnect is delighted to participate in this bold 2Africa subsea cable project. This initiative complements MTN GlobalConnect’s terrestrial fibre strategy to connect African countries to each other and to the rest of the world. We are proud to be playing a key role in providing the benefits of a modern connected life – a core MTN belief,” commented Frédéric Schepens, CEO of MTN Group’s wholesale operation, MTN GlobalConnect.

“As one of the world’s leading multi-service telecommunications operators and present in 18 countries in Africa and the Middle East, it was natural for Orange to be part of the 2Africa project. This major investment will complete our existing submarine and pan-African terrestrial infrastructures to provide access to international connectivity in a redundant fashion throughout the west coast of Africa. It will enable Orange to securely meet the demand for increased bandwidth necessary for the continued digital development of regions throughout the 2Africa system,” added Alioune Ndiaye, CEO of Orange Middle East and Africa.

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