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Connectivity

MTN's Bayobab inks $320M African fiber deal

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Africa's biggest mobile firm MTN Group, which recently rebranded its MTN GlobalConnect division to Bayobab, has partnered with infrastructure investment agency Africa50 to build 6 billion South African rand (US$320 million) of terrestrial fiber cable.

The inland fiber cable will be called Project East2West and will connect ten countries over the next three years to improve broadband access for landlocked African countries.

The build is scheduled to begin in the fourth quarter of 2023 and will add about 20,000km of new cable and interconnect over 100,000km of fiber, the telco said in a statement.

"This partnership with Africa50 comes at an opportune time, just as we rebrand MTN GlobalConnect to Bayobab to position the business as an Africa-focused open-access digital infrastructure platform," said MTN Group President and CEO Ralph Mupita.

Connecting Africa's hard to reach areas

As part of a push to connect African countries to Europe and the Middle East, this deal follows MTN's recent involvement in landing Google's Equiano subsea cable in South Africa last year.

The two huge subsea cable systems by Meta and Google-backed Equiano are likely to be game-changers for African telecoms.

However, while the undersea systems bring fast broadband to coastal cities, inland cables are needed to connect landlocked countries.

"For landlocked African countries, Project East2West will improve latency by almost two thirds and increase capacity to support high quality broadband access. In this way, it will level the playing field and ensure that everyone has a fair chance to succeed in the digital world," Mupita added.

The Project East2West will connect ten countries over the next three years and will improve broadband access for landlocked African countries.  (Source: Freepik)
The Project East2West will connect ten countries over the next three years and will improve broadband access for landlocked African countries.
(Source: Freepik)

Furthermore, the telco said the partnership will offer improvements in data traffic for Internet service providers, mobile network operators and hyperscalers operating in these countries.

"It will also bridge the bottlenecks in global Internet traffic landing in and going out of Africa. It is expected to cut latency by up to 65% on the east-to-west route," the statement continued.

"We are looking forward to Project East2West meeting the connectivity demands to power digital services, bridging the digital divide across Africa, and paving the way for the sustainable digital societies of tomorrow," said Bayobab CEO Frédéric Schepens.

As a co-developer, Africa50 is fostering the harmonization of regional data and security regulations, boosting consumption of local content throughout the region and promoting inter-regional exchanges and regional economic development, the statement continued.

"Project East2West is a remarkable and transformative project that will step-change Africa's Internet capacity expansion drive by supporting the growth and development of 4G and 5G," said Africa50 CEO Alain Ebobissé.

Related posts:

*Top image source: Bayobab Press Office.

— Matshepo Sehloho, Associate Editor, Connecting Africa

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