Facebook and a team of African and global telecommunications companies will add four more countries to its world’s largest submarine cable project and expand the construction project in Africa ahead of schedule, they said in a joint statement on Monday.
The internet connection will be extended to the Seychelles, the Comoros, Angola and a new landing point in the southeast of Nigeria. This is in addition to the recently announced expansion to the Canary Islands, the companies said.
The consortium of the project, named 2Africa, consists of South Africa’s MTN GlobalConnect, Facebook, the Mauritius-based infrastructure provider WIOCC, China Mobile International, France’s Orange SA, Saudi Arabia’s stc, Telecom Egypt and Vodafone.
Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN) has been selected to set up the new “branches” that will increase the number of 2Africa landings in 26 countries to 35 and further improve connectivity in and around Africa, they added.
“Most of the subsea route surveying activities are now complete. ASN has started manufacturing the cables and building repeater units in its factories in Calais and Greenwich to deliver the first segments in 2022, “the companies said.
The consortium launched the cable, which is expected to go live in late 2023, in May 2020 to connect these countries in Africa, the Middle East and Europe.
Submarine cables form the backbone of the Internet and carry 99 percent of the world’s data traffic.
The major economies of Africa have large and rapidly growing populations of Internet users, with the increase in Internet use being driven by rapidly growing mobile broadband networks and more affordable telephones.
However, with a population of just over 1.3 billion, Africa is still a laggard in internet connectivity with average mobile internet users of around 26 percent versus a global average of 51 percent.
The companies said 2Africa would be the largest submarine cable project in the world.
© Thomson Reuters 2021