2Africa, backed by Facebook, will grow to become the world’s longest subsea cable.
A group of tech companies backed by Facebook has announced a 45,000-kilometer extension to a subsea cable system it’s working on.
When it goes live in 2023, the 2Africa cable, which was first announced by Facebook in 2020 as a way to connect Europe and Africa, will also serve the Middle East and India, according to the consortium.
The expansion of the 2Africa project follows Facebook and Google’s announcement last month that they would collaborate on an Asia-Pacific subsea cable project that would launch in 2024.
What is 2Africa?
The 2Africa initiative’s goal, as its name suggests, is to provide internet connectivity to people in Africa, which is currently the world’s least connected continent. This extension includes landing sites in India (Mumbai), Pakistan (Karachi), Oman (Salalah and Barakah), the United Arab Emirates (Kalba and Abu Dhabi), Qatar (Doha), Bahrain (Manamah), Iraq (AlFaw), Kuwait (Kuwait), and Saudi Arabia (Saudi Arabia) (Khobar).
Facebook’s participation in the installation of subsea cables is part of the company’s global infrastructure commitments, which aim to bring faster and more reliable internet to various parts of the world, particularly those that are currently without it.
The consortium, which also includes carriers Vodafone and Orange, expects the 2Africa cable network to provide connectivity to 3 billion people, or about 36% of the world’s population, according to Facebook VP of Networking Infrastructure Kevin Salvadori in a blog post on Tuesday.
The 2Africa cable system was designed to run from the United Kingdom all the way around Africa, then up the Suez Canal and back into the Mediterranean Sea to Spain, covering 37,000 kilometers (22,990 miles).
The consortium is also extending the cable’s reach to four more branches in Seychelles, the Comoros Islands, Angola, and the south-eastern part of Nigeria, the company announced. This new segment would bring the total length of the trail to more than 45,000 kilometers (28,000 miles).
However, the 2Africa Pearls extension will see the cable follow the Arabian Gulf up to Kuwait before crossing the Indian Ocean to India and Pakistan.
Africa is at the heart of the cable system, with only a quarter of the continent’s population having access to the internet. According to Facebook, the 2Africa system will provide three times the current network capacity of all subsea cables currently serving the continent.
Kevin Salvadori, Facebook’s VP of networking infrastructure, stated in the company’s announcement that the full structure would serve more people than the consortium had planned. While the original 2Africa project was only intended to connect 1.2 billion people, the addition of Pearls would bring the total number of people served to 3 billion. He expressed himself thusly:
The past 18 months have highlighted the importance of connectivity as billions of people around the world rely on the internet to work, attend school, and stay connected to people they care about. We continue to invest in subsea cables in Africa and beyond, as communities and businesses flourish when there is widely accessible internet.