Facebook to Increase Undersea Cable Network in Africa

Facebook Inc. in partnership with some of the world’s largest telecommunications carriers, China Mobile Ltd., and MTN Group Ltd. announced it plans to build a wider-than-earlier giant sub-sea cable in Africa

In a statement released on Monday, the companies plan to add the Indian Ocean island countries of Seychelles and Comoros, as well as Angola, and a new connection to Nigeria, which is in addition to a recently announced link to the Canary Islands and would bring connection-landings to 35 in 26 countries.

A Facebook spokesperson emphasized the importance of the investment, He said “the significant investment by Facebook in 2Africa builds on several other investments we have made in the continent, including infrastructure investments in South Africa, Uganda, Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo,”

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The undersea cable sector is experiencing a resurgence, with Facebook and Alphabet Inc.’s Google behind about 80% of recent investments in transatlantic links. The tech giants are seeking to tap the growing demand for fast-data transfers used for everything from streaming movies to social messaging and telemedicine. During the 1990s dot-com boom, phone companies spent more than $20 billion laying fiber-optic lines under the oceans.

The project is part of Facebook’s long-held plans to lead the race to provide more reliable and faster internet in Africa, a continent of more than 1.2 billion people with an increased uptake of smartphones. The U.S. social-media giant first announced plans for a new undersea cable in May 2020. That followed attempts to launch a satellite in 2016 to beam signal around the continent — but the SpaceX rocket carrying the technology blew up.

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According to reports, 2Africa is set to be one of the largest subsea cable projects in the world, which will cost just under $1 billion.

Manufacturing of the first segments of the infrastructure has started in the U.S., Nokia Oyj’ Alcatel Submarine Networks was picked to build the cable.

The marine surveys for the new sections of the cable will probably be completed by the end of the year, according to the companies. The 37,000-kilometer (23,000 miles) long cable will connect Africa, Europe, and the Middle East.

2Africa is expected to come into operation by 2024 and will deliver more than the combined capacity of all sub-sea cables that are currently serving Africa, according to the statement. Other project partners include Telecom Egypt Co, the U.K.’s Vodafone Group Plc, and Paris-based Orange SA.

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