An ambitious initiative led by Facebook and telecom carriers—dubbed 2Africa—has tabbed Alcatel Submarine Systems to supply 37,000 km of cable that is nearly triple the existing data capacity from sub-sea cables now serving Africa.
Per multiple media reports, Facebook Inc. and some of the world’s largest telecom carriers—including China Mobile, South Africa’s MTN, France’s Orange and Britain’s Vodafone as well as local network operators on the project—are joining forces to build the massive sub-sea cable, which is designed to bring more reliable and faster internet across Africa. The cost of the project will be just under $1 billion, according to one report that cited anonymous sources described as being “familiar with the project."
2Africa will connect Europe to the Middle East and 16 African countries, according to the reports. The undersea cable sector is experiencing a resurgence. Now tech giants, led by Facebook and Alphabet Inc.’s Google, are behind some 80% of the recent investment in transatlantic cable, driven by demand for fast-data transfers used for streaming movies to social messaging.
“2Africa is a continuation of our ongoing efforts to expand global network infrastructure,” a statement from Facebook said. “We have collaborated with partners all over the world to build several subsea fiber-optic cables that are leading the industry in terms of reach, capacity, and flexibility.”
The 2Africa cable will be one of the longest in the world, trailing Sea-Me-We 3, which is 39,000 km long and connects 33 countries, according to Submarine Cable Networks. Of note, Google is also working on an underwater cable, called Equiano, which would connect Africa with Europe.