Recognising Africa as the world’s “least connected continent”, Facebook has teamed up with various telecom companies, including Orange, China Mobile International and Vodafone, to construct 2Africa. The project aims to provide more reliable high-speed internet to Africa’s 1.3 million inhabitants – of which only a quarter currently have access to the internet.
The cable will be 23,000 miles long – almost equal to the circumference of the Earth – and will almost triple Africa’s current total network capacity.
The total cost of the ambitious project is estimated by Bloomberg to be almost $1 billion.
Expected to be launched by 2024, Facebook claims it will be “the most comprehensive subsea cable to serve the African continent and Middle East region”. It is designed to “interconnect 23 countries in Africa, the Middle East, and Europe”, and will “support further growth of 4G, 5G, and broadband access for hundreds of millions of people”.
The coronavirus has greatly highlighted the need to stay connected virtually amid lockdown restrictions. In anticipation of the global post-pandemic recession, Facebook hopes the project will help to enhance connectivity across Africa and significantly expand its digital economy.
“Billions of people around the world rely on the internet to work, attend school, and stay connected to those they care about,” Facebook stated. “2Africa will be not only an important element for advancing connectivity infrastructure across the African continent, but also a major investment that comes at a crucial time for economic recovery.”
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