In what represents the first submarine cable landing in the Eastern Cape region, promising greater internet capacity and acceleration of connectivity across the province and supporting South Africa’s growing digital economy, the 2Africa subsea cable has landed at the Vodacom network facility in Gqeberha, South Africa.
Said to be the most comprehensive subsea cable to serve the African continent and the Middle East region, and launched in May 2022, 2Africa is intended to enhance internet connectivity, capacity and reliability across Africa and the Middle East. It will interconnect Europe, eastward via Egypt, the Middle East via Saudi Arabia, and make 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, with a design capacity of up to 180Tbps on key parts of the system.
At 45,000km long, 2Africa will be one of the world’s largest subsea cable projects. In addition to supplementing capacity demand in the Middle East, it is also designed to underpin the further growth of 4G, 5G and fixed broadband access for hundreds of millions of people. The submarine cable system is predicted, said an RTI study, to spur economic impact worth US$26.2bn to US$36.9bn, equivalent to 0.42-0.58% of Africa’s GDP, within two to three years of becoming operational, catalysing economic growth.
Following work with Orange, Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN) was the build partner for the 2Africa Consortium, which comprises eight international partners, namely China Mobile International, Meta (Facebook), MTN GlobalConnect, Orange, center3 (stc), Telecom Egypt, WIOCC and Vodafone/Vodacom.
The consortium assures that in countries where the 2Africa cable will land, service providers will obtain capacity in carrier-neutral datacentres or open-access cable landing stations on a fair and equitable basis, encouraging and supporting the development of a healthy internet ecosystem. Direct international connectivity will then be provided to datacentres, enterprise and wholesale customers.
The Gqeberha landing is the 2Africa project’s third on the coast of South Africa, following two recent landings in the Western Cape by MTN GlobalConnect, Vodacom is the designated landing partner, providing facilities for the cable’s installation at an existing site in the Summerstrand area. Once the fibre cable system has been deployed, Vodacom said businesses and consumers would benefit from improved quality, reliability and lower latency for internet services, including telecommuting, high-definition video streaming, and advanced multimedia and mobile video applications.
Vodacom added that the cable system’s landing in the Eastern Cape would also offer the potential for much-needed regional job creation in sectors that rely on direct international connectivity, such as datacentres, call centres and software development. It believes this employment opportunity can help contribute to local and national socio-economic development.
“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.”