Facebook has partnered with telecom companies like China Telecom, France’s Orange, Telecom Egypt and Vodafone to build 2Africa, a submarine cable network for Africa and the Middle East. These submarine cables will expand the capacity countries in those continents have with the global internet. Some parts of this network would have a designed maximum capacity of 180 terabits per second, though the initial buildout is likely to be lower. This is the second big announcement for Africa and undersea cables this year — Seacom and Tata Communications announced in March that they would also be building an undersea network girding Africa’s coastline.
At 37,000km long, 2Africa will be one of the world’s largest subsea cable projects and will interconnect Europe (eastward via Egypt), the Middle East (via Saudi Arabia), and 21 landings in 16 countries in Africa. The system is expected to go live in 2023/4, delivering more than the total combined capacity of all subsea cables serving Africa today, the project’s press release said. TeleGeography estimates that undersea cables connecting Europe and Sub-Saharan Africa have less than 25Tbps capacity, much less than other routes in the world. This, even as the company’s analysis found that between 2015 and 2019, lit capacity in submarine cables tripled globally.