2Africa, a subsea cable to serve the African continent and Middle East, has selected Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN) to build the cable.
The partners of 2Africa include China Mobile International, Facebook, MTN GlobalConnect, Orange, STC, Telecom Egypt, Vodafone and WIOCC.
The 2Africa cable will be 37,000 km long, making it one of the world’s largest subsea cable projects. It will interconnect Europe eastward via Egypt, the Middle East via Saudi Arabia, and 21 landings in sixteen countries in Africa.
The system is expected to go live in 2023-24, delivering more than the total combined capacity of all subsea cables serving Africa currently, with a design capacity of up to 180 Tbps on key parts of the system.
Executives involved in the project
# Jessica Gu, chief technology officer of China Mobile International
# Najam Ahmad, vice president of Network Infrastructure at Facebook
# Frederic Schepens, CEO of MTN GlobalConnect
# Alioune Ndiaye, CEO of Orange Middle East and Africa
# Mohammed A Alabbadi, Wholesale VP in STC
# Adel Hamed, CEO of Telecom Egypt
# Vinod Kumar, CEO Vodafone Business
# WIOCC CEO Chris Wood
# Alain Biston, president of Alcatel Submarine Networks
2Africa will deliver internet capacity in large parts of Africa, serve fast-growing capacity demand in the Middle East and underpin the growth of 4G, 5G and fixed broadband access to customers.
In countries where the 2Africa cable will land, service providers will obtain capacity in carrier-neutral data centres or open-access cable landing stations. This will support healthy internet ecosystem development by facilitating greatly improved accessibility for businesses and consumers alike.
The 2Africa cable will 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.
This includes new cable landing stations and deployment of fibre on two 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, SDM1 from ASN, allowing deployment of up to 16 fibre pairs instead of the eight fibre pairs supported by older technologies, bringing cost-effective capacity.
The cable will incorporate optical switching technology to enable flexible management of bandwidth. Cable burial depth has also been increased by 50 percent compared to older systems, and cable routing will avoid locations of known subsea disturbance, all helping to ensure the highest levels of availability.