2Africa submarine cable lands in Eastern Cape region

23 01 23 - Vodacom subsea cable - 4 (002)

The 2Africa subsea cable, apparently the largest in the world, has been plugged into the Vodacom network facility in Gqeberha, South Africa.

The 2Africa subsea cable project was launched in May 2022 by a conglomerate of firms – China Mobile International, Meta (Facebook), MTN GlobalConnect, Orange, center3 (stc), Telecom Egypt, Vodafone/Vodacom and WIOCC –  and is supposed to boost internet connectivity between Africa and the rest of the world.

The Gqeberha landing is the project’s third on the coast of South Africa – there have been two in the Western Cape by MTN GlobalConnect. Vodacom is the ‘designated landing partner’, which means providing facilities for the cable’s installation at a site in the Summerstrand area.

Once the connecting fibre cable system has been deployed, direct international connectivity can then be plugged into data centres, enterprise, and wholesale customers. It is designed to improve network resilience from the Eastern Cape to the rest of South Africa, and generally improve connectivity in the region and surrounding provinces.

The 2Africa cable is due to be finished next year, with a final length of 45,000 kilometres in and a design capacity of 180 Tbps, interconnecting Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Ultimately it will connect 19 countries in Africa and 33 countries globally.

“This latest 2Africa cable landing affirms Vodacom’s commitment to driving digital inclusion in Africa by increasing access to quality internet services and investing in the network infrastructure to support this goal,” said Diego Gutierrez, Vodacom Group Chief Officer, International Markets. “We cannot achieve this alone, and collaboration between other industry stakeholders and the public sector is critical in enabling more citizens across the continent to be connected.”

“Vodacom Group is pleased to be working with our partners in the 2Africa project to bring faster, more reliable internet to local businesses and consumers while helping to build an inclusive digital society on the continent and around the world. The subsea cable system enables more communities to access transformative online resources, from education and healthcare to jobs and financial services, and experience seamless connectivity’s economic and social benefits.”

In December last year, Bharti Airtel announced it had teamed up with Meta to hook up a recent extension of the cable called 2Africa Pearls to Airtel’s landing station in Mumbai, providing more dedicated capacity to bolster the operator’s submarine network portfolio. Airtel said the 2Africa cable will significantly boost India’s cable capacity and ‘empower global hyper-scalers and businesses to build new integrated solutions and provide a high-quality seamless experience to customers.’

The project will no doubt be welcome to some of the poorest areas on the planet, and presumably has the potential to lay some decent ground work for improving the regional economies it is plugging into. Amid the ‘fair contribution’ debate, Meta’s involvement is also a reminder that big tech does get involved in developing internet infrastructure, it just takes a different form to 5G towers.


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