Facebook to add four new branches to its 2Africa undersea cable network

Facebook to add four new branches to its 2Africa undersea cable network

Social media giant, Facebook has announced that it will expand the 2Africa, giant subsea cable it is building to four more branches in Africa.

According to a statement released on Monday, the new branches will extend to the Indian Ocean island nations of Seychelles and Comoros along with Angola and a new connection to South-East Nigeria. This will be in addition to a recently announced connection to the Canary Islands which are located off the coast of Northwestern Africa. The companies have now expanded the number of connection-landings to 35 which are in 26 countries.

This project will be executed in collaboration with the 2Africa consortium that includes global telecom companies such as China Mobile Ltd., MTN Group Ltd., Orange, STC, Telecom Egypt, Vodafone, and WIOCC. This is by far the most encompassing subsea cable to serve the African continent and the Middle East region.

“The significant investment by Facebook in 2Africa builds on several other investments we have made in the continent, including infrastructure investments we have made in the continent, including infrastructure investments in South Africa, Uganda, Nigeria, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The COVID-19 pandemic has 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,” a Facebook spokesperson is quoted to have said regarding the project.

Facebook to add four new branches to its 2Africa undersea cable network
Credits: 2Africa

The 2Africa undersea cable project is part of Facebook’s plan to lead the race in providing faster internet connections to the African continent. Africa has a population of 1.2 billion where more and more people are starting to use smartphones.

Facebook had first announced its plan to build an undersea cable in 2019. Back then, involved parties said the 2Africa project would be completed either by 2023 or early 2024. It is expected to be one of the largest subsea cable projects ever that will be completed under a budget of $1 billion. Once completed, 2Africa should be able to serve more than the total combined capacity of all subsea cables serving Africa at the moment.

The 37,000-kilometre-long sub-sea cable will connect Africa, the Middle East, and Europe. The companies have stated that marine surveys for building the undersea cable are likely to be completed by the end of 2021.

According to the statement, manufacturing for the first segment of the project’s infrastructure has already begun in the US. Nokia Oyj’ Alcatel Submarine Networks has been contracted to build the cable.

The undersea cable sector has been witnessing a resurgence of sorts as tech giants Facebook and Google have been behind about 80% of the recent investments in transatlantic links. Facebook and Google are looking to tap into the growing demand for fast-data transfers across the world.

“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. With more and more people relying on the internet, subsea cables are vital to ensure they are always connected to what matters. While Facebook invests in submarine cables to provide better experiences for people using our products, our investments drive a more cost-effective internet for all,” the spokesperson concluded.

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