A consortium of big name tech firms have succeeded in expanding Internet connectivity for the African continent.
MTN Global Connect announced that the world’s longest undersea cable, 2Africa, made landfall last December at Yzerfontein and Duynefontein in South Africa.
The 2Africa cable is owned by a consortium that includes firms such as MTN Global Connect, Meta Platforms (Facebook), China Mobile International, Orange, center3, Telecom Egypt, Vodafone and WIOCC.
Announced in 2020, the 2Africa cable, has been described as the “most comprehensive” subsea cable to serve the African continent and Middle East region.
When completed, the 2Africa cable will stretch 45,000 km (27,961,704 miles) long, and runs from Europe through the Atlantic Ocean and Indian Ocean (going completely around the African continent), and then back into Europe via the Red Sea and the Mediterranean.
It will serve 33 markets and have at least 47 landing stations.
Alcatel Submarine Networks is building 2Africa and its extensions using a new technology called Spatial Division Multiplexing (SDM).
The cable, with a design capacity of up to 180 TBps. on key parts of the system, will deliver much-needed internet capacity, reliability, and improved internet performance across large parts of AFRICA, and will supplement capacity demand in the Middle East.
The 180 TBps capacity of Africa2 is 36Tbps faster than Google’s Equiano cable.
The 2Africa cable connection will go live in 2023.
“Data traffic across African markets is expected to grow between four and five fold over the next 5 years, so we need infrastructure and capacity to meet that level of growth and demand,” said MTN Group President and CEO Ralph Mupita.
“MTN GlobalConnect is pleased to participate in this bold 2Africa subsea cable project,” added MTN GlobalConnect CEO Frédéric Schepens. “The initiative complements our terrestrial fibre strategy to connect African countries to each other and to the rest of the world.”
“We are building scale infrastructure assets to meet the explosive growth in data traffic and accelerate the digital economy on the continent, by creating a panAfrican fibre railroad driving affordable connectivity,” said Schepens.
The 2Africa subsea cable system will support both the western and eastern sides of Africa, once complete in 2023 and 2024 respectively.
This means that South African service providers can acquire capacity in carrier-neutral data centres or open-access cable landing stations on a fair and equitable basis.
Connecting Africa one subsea cable at a time
Credit: Mark-Anthony Johnson