Facebook and a team of African and global telecommunications companies will add four more countries to its largest submarine cable project in the world, expanding the construction project in Africa ahead of schedule, they said in a joint statement on Monday.
Internet connectivity will be expanded to Seychelles, Comoros Islands, Angola, and will bring a new landing point to southeast Nigeria. This adds to the recently announced extension to the Canary Islands, the companies said.
The project consortium, called 2Africa, comprises South Africa’s MTN GlobalConnect, Facebook, Mauritius-based infrastructure provider WIOCC, China Mobile International, France’s Orange SA, Saudi Arabia stc, Telecom Egypt and Vodafone.
Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN) was selected to deploy the new “agencies”, which will increase 2Africa’s landings to 35 in 26 countries, further improving connectivity in and around Africa, they added.
“Most of the subsea route research activity is complete. ASN has started manufacturing the cable and building repeater units at its plants in Calais and Greenwich to roll out the first segments in 2022,” the companies said.
The consortium launched the cable, which should go into operation at the end of 2023, in May 2020, to connect countries in Africa, the Middle East and Europe.
Undersea cables form the backbone of the Internet, carrying 99 percent of the world’s data traffic.
Africa’s large economies have a large and rapidly growing population of Internet users, with the growth in Internet usage fueled by the rapid expansion of mobile broadband networks and more affordable phones.
However, with a population of just over 1.3 billion, Africa is still a laggard in Internet connectivity, averaging mobile Internet users around 26 percent against a global average of 51 percent.
The companies said 2Africa will be the world’s largest submarine cable project.
© Thomson Reuters 2021