25 June 2020
China Mobile International, Facebook, MTN GlobalConnect, Orange, stc, Telecom Egypt, Vodafone and WIOCC have all joined forces to build 2Africa, which they said will be “the most comprehensive subsea cable to serve the African continent and Middle East region”.
The parties have appointed Alcatel Submarine Networks (“ASN”) to build the cable in a fully funded project which is designed to enhance connectivity across Africa and the Middle East. At 37,000km long, 2Africa will be one of the world’s largest subsea cable projects and will interconnect Europe (eastward via Egypt), the Middle East (via Saudi Arabia) and 21 landings in 16 countries in Africa. The system is expected to go live in 2023/4, delivering more than the total combined capacity
of all subsea cables serving Africa today, with a design capacity of up to 180Tbps on key parts of the system. Furthermore, 2Africa will deliver much needed internet capacityand 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.
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. The 2Africa parties and Airtel have signed an agreement with Telecom Egypt to provide a completely new crossing linking the Red Sea and the Mediter- ranean, the first in over a decade. This includes new cable landing stations and deployment of next-generation fibre 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.
Furthermore, the cable will implement a new technology, SDM1 from ASN, allowing deployment of up to 16 fibre pairs instead of the eight fibre pairs supported by older technologies, bringing much great- er and more cost-effective capacity. The cable will incorporate optical switching technology to enable flexible management of bandwidth. Cable burial depth has also been increased by 50% compared to old- er systems, and cable routing will avoid locations of known subsea disturbance, all helping to ensure the highest levels of availability.
“MTN GlobalConnect is delighted to participate in this bold 2Africa subsea cable project,” said Frédéric Schepens, CEO of MTN Group’s wholesale opera- tion, MTN GlobalConnect.“
This initiative complements MTN GlobalConnect’s terrestrial fibre strategy to connect African countries to each other and to the rest of the world. We are proud to be playing a key role in providing the benefits of a modern connected life – a core MTN belief.”
Alioune Ndiaye, CEO of Orange Middle East and Africa, added: “As one of the world’s leading multi-ser- vice telecommunications operators and present in 18 countries in Africa and the Middle East, it was natural for Orange to be part of the 2Africa project. This major investment will complete our existing submarine and pan-African terrestrial infrastructures to provide access to international connectivity in a redundant fashion throughout the west coast of Africa. It will enable Orange to securely meet the demand for increased bandwidth necessary for the continued digital development of regions throughout the 2Africa system.”