A new subsea cable to go around Africa and the Middle East is under construction. 2Africa, backed by Facebook, China Mobile, MTN Group, Vodafone Group, Orange, among others is said to be the “most comprehensive subsea cable to serve the African continent and Middle East region”.
The 9 parties have appointed Alcatel Submarine Networks to build the cable in a fully funded project. The cable will be 37 000km in length, making it one of the longest in the world, and will interconnect 23 countries in Africa, the Middle East, and Europe.
The system is expected to go live in 2023 or 2024, delivering more than the total combined capacity of all subsea cables serving Africa today, with a design capacity of up to 180Tbit/s on key parts of the system.
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 Mediterranean, the first in over a decade.
This also 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.
The 2Africa cable will implement a new technology, SDM from Alcatel Submarine Networks, allowing deployment of up to 16 fibre pairs instead of the eight fibre pairs supported by older technologies, bringing much greater and more cost-effective capacity.