A new subsea cable is coming to Africa and the Middle East, with hopes to bump up Internet connectivity in the region through a major partnership between both global and African players.
The cable, named 2Africa, is one of the largest subsea cable projects in the world, connecting 23 countries in Africa, the Middle East and Europe.
It comes with a laundry list of high-profile backers including Facebook, China Mobile International, Vodafone, Orange, Telecom Egypt, Saudi Telecom (stc), West Indian Ocean Cable Company (WIOCC) and MTN's wholesale operation, MTN GlobalConnect.
The cable will be built by Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN) and is expected to be 37,000km long. It will interconnect Europe (eastward via Egypt), the Middle East (via Saudi Arabia) with 21 landings in 16 countries in Africa.
The system is expected to go live in 2023/2024 and will reportedly be able to deliver more than the total combined capacity of all subsea cables serving Africa today, with a design capacity of up to 180 Tbit/s on key parts of the system.
"2Africa will deliver much needed internet capacity and reliability across large parts of Africa, supplement the fast-growing capacity demand in the Middle East and underpin the further growth of 4G, 5G and fixed broadband access for hundreds of millions of people," a joint statement from all the partners reads.
The planned route of the 2Africa subsea cable.
The group said that in countries where the 2Africa cable will land, service providers will obtain capacity in carrier-neutral data centers or open-access cable landing stations on a fair and equitable basis.
"The 2Africa cable has been designed to improve resilience and maximise performance, including the option of a seamless optical crossing between East Africa and Europe," reads the statement.
The 2Africa parties and operator Airtel have also signed an agreement with Telecom Egypt to provide a completely new crossing linking the Red Sea and the Mediterranean, the first in over a decade. This includes new cable landing stations and deployment of next-generation fiber on two new, diverse terrestrial routes parallel to the Suez Canal from Ras Ghareb to Port Said, and a new subsea link that will provide a third path between Ras Ghareb and Suez.
The 2Africa cable will implement a new technology, SDM1 from ASN, allowing deployment of up to 16 fiber pairs instead of the eight fiber pairs supported by older technologies, which is expected to bring greater and more cost-effective capacity.
Safaricom is launching an M-Pesa 'super-app' which will let SMEs create their own business apps within the mobile money ecosystem, according to CIO, George Njuguna, who was speaking at East Africa Com.
Africa was the birthplace of Mobile Money and while it continues to rise in popularity, the industry is quickly evolving and launching more mobile-based financial services every day. In this Connecting Africa online event, local analysts and industry stakeholders will discuss how telcos are disrupting the financial services space and what the rise of Mobile Money 2.0 will look like for Africa.
From cash to mobile: heading towards a cashless society
Expanding MFS offerings beyond mobile money transfers
MNOs vs banks vs fintechs: an evolving competitive landscape
Unconnected and unbanked: fintech to improve financial inclusion
The rise of micro-loans and insurance through mobile platforms
Africa has the fastest growing population in the world and also the youngest, with 60% of Africans under the age of 25. It is clear that the next billion connected are going to be the mobile-only generation. This digital symposium will bring industry experts together to discuss Africa’s digital divide and how to get devices into the hands of young Africans and empower them to join the digital revolution.
Who’s Driving? The role of government & regulator, private tech companies, and public-private partnerships
Device affordability: are we reaching a tipping point?
Status check: Satellite vs Fiber and the enduring infrastructure gap
Exploring the wider societal and economic benefits of a connected, digitally literate continent