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Smart Africa, Bayobab, Africa50 join forces for Project East2West

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The Smart Africa Alliance has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with digital connectivity solutions company Bayobab and infrastructure investment platform Africa50 to support fiber optic cable initiative Project East2West.

This follows the May 2023 partnership between Bayobab and Africa50 to develop a terrestrial fiber optic cable network connecting the eastern shores of Africa to those on the west coast.

The partnership with the Smart Africa will support Project East2West with regulatory and policy engagements.

Smart Africa is an alliance of African countries, international organizations and global private sector players tasked with Africa's digital agenda. Launched in 2013 by seven African heads of state, the Alliance now has 39 member countries, representing over 1 billion people, and over 50 private sector members.

In a joint statement, the companies said the partnership recognizes the vital role of pan-African collaboration in constructing telecommunication highways, essential to meet the surging demand and need for affordable connectivity solutions in Africa.

"This collaborative endeavor signifies the power of pan-African partners coming together to develop connectivity solutions tailored for African development," said Bayobab Group CEO Frédéric Schepens.

"We believe that such projects are key to creating a future where our youth are given opportunities to learn, share, create and play an active role in building resilient societies through innovation and new technologies," added Africa50 Managing Director and Head of Project Development Demba Diallo.

Project East2West to bridge digital divide

The organizations believe that the project underlines the importance of bridging the digital divide by extending networks from Bayobab's access to 16 subsea cable systems circled around Africa.

The partnership with the Smart Africa Alliance will support fiber optic cable initiative Project East2West with regulatory and policy engagements.   (Source: Image by Freepik).
The partnership with the Smart Africa Alliance will support fiber optic cable initiative Project East2West with regulatory and policy engagements.
(Source: Image by Freepik).

This week Bayobab landed the 45,000km 2Africa subsea cable in Accra, Ghana which once completed in 2023 and 2024 will serve Africa's western and eastern areas respectively.

Bayobab said the landing is one of several cable landings taking place across 46 locations in 33 countries for all consortium partners, bringing seamless connectivity across continents.

Additionally, in July 2023, it secured a contract to manage, operate and maintain the national fiber optic infrastructure of the Central African Republic.

Bayobab's parent company MTN Group has been part of a push to connect African countries to Europe and the Middle East, with its involvement in landing Google's Equiano subsea cable in South Africa last year.

While the undersea systems bring fast broadband to coastal cities, inland cables are needed to connect landlocked countries and that is where Project East2West comes in.

"Project East2West is a strong step towards bridging the connectivity gap on the continent, one of the key priorities of Smart Africa," added Smart Africa Alliance CEO Lacina Koné.

Moreover, the partners believe that the MoU underscores the pivotal role of connectivity as a catalyst for African development and growth, through enabling business expansion, job creation and skills development.

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*Top image source: Image by pch.vector on Freepik

— Matshepo Sehloho, Associate Editor, Connecting Africa

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