Last year in May, Facebook partnered with leading African and global telecommunications operators to form the 2Africa consortium with the purpose of building the most comprehensive subsea cable to serve the African continent and Middle East region. 2Africa is to interconnect 23 countries in Africa, the Middle East, and Europe. This is unarguably the largest subsea cable project in the world that at 37,000 kilometers long, 2Africa will be nearly equal to the circumference of the Earth.
It will provide nearly three times the total network capacity of all the subsea cables serving Africa today. Facebook says when completed, this new route will deliver much-needed internet capacity, redundancy, and reliability across Africa; supplement a rapidly increasing demand for capacity in the Middle East; and support further growth of 4G, 5G, and broadband access for hundreds of millions of people.
Now, the 2Africa consortium that includes China Mobile International, MTN GlobalConnect, Orange, STC, Telecom Egypt, Vodafone, and WIOCC has announced that it would extend to four more branches in the project, announcing that the new branches are Seychelles, the Comoros Islands, Angola and the south-eastern part of Nigeria joining the extension to the Canary Islands. It has also stated that the project would be completed and go live by late 2023 or early 2024. The consortium, in its latest statement, gave an update noting that it had made considerable progress in planning and preparing for the deployment of the cable, with a big part of the subsea route survey activity complete and the Egypt and Mediterranean Seas connections almost complete. The marine surveys for the new sections are scheduled to be completed by the end of this year.
This project is expected to provide a healthy internet ecosystem by enabling greatly improved accessibility for people and businesses alike. Nokia’s Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN) was selected to build the new branches, bringing 2Africa landings to 35 in 26 countries. A Facebook spokesperson told TechCrunch that the COVID-19 pandemic had highlighted the importance of connectivity as billions of people around the world rely on the internet to work, attend school and stay connected to the people they care about. He added that 2Africa will not only be an important element for advancing connectivity infrastructure across the African continent, but it will also be a major investment that comes at a critical time for economic recovery.