2Africa is a 45,000 km subsea cable system and the largest cable project in the world. It will be the first system to provide continuous capacity around the African continent while connecting countries in Africa, Asia (including the Middle East) and Europe. The system will facilitate communications for over 3 billion people - over 30% of the world's population. It will drive a unique ecosystem that will boost digital transformation for applications including healthcare, education, and financial services for 33 countries across three continents.
2Africa will also be the first subsea cable to seamlessly connect East and West Africa across a single open system including two brand-new trans-Egypt terrestrial crossing routes to connect the Red Sea to the Mediterranean Sea towards Europe and a third new marine path linking Ras Ghareb and Suez landing stations in the Red Sea.
2Africa will provide much-needed internet capacity and reliability across 3 continents supporting the growth of 4G, 5G, and fixed broadband access for hundreds of millions of people and businesses. It will also drive innovation through future-proof design of rich available capacity and an ecosystem of open access landings and carrier neutral colocation centers. · Map and country breakdown here.
2Africa" reflects the regions that this cable will support with connectivity. The cable system will deliver better and much-needed capacity between Asia, Middle East, and Europe "to Africa".
2Africa is funded by a consortium of global partners. The consortium includes eight members, namely, CMI, Meta, MTN GlobalConnect, Orange, stc (center3), Telecom Egypt, Vodafone, and WIOCC.
2Africa is an open cable system where investing parties manage the operation of their fibre. In countries where the 2Africa cable will land, service providers will obtain capacity at carrier-neutral data centers or open access landing stations on a fair and equitable basis. This will support healthy internet ecosystem development and enable improved accessibility for businesses, people and consumers alike. Local partners will separately manage each party's fibre and common equipment, including power equipment for the landings.
2Africa will leverage multiple maintenance providers and ships based on demand and service level agreements. Dependent on SLA and where the breakage has taken place, 2Africa will lean on various suppliers for immediate support.
The 2Africa cable is the largest cable system in the world and is the most expensive system ever built, supporting connectivity within, into and out of a fast-growing continent. Given the high capital investment required, investors choose the consortium because it offers the lowest cost structure and reduces the financial risk of designing and building cables across continents.
Commissioned studies show that new cable landings can be a catalyst for change. Decreases in broadband prices and increases in broadband penetration rates often translate into economic growth for the surrounding population that benefits individuals and businesses. For example, consumers may access and consume digital content and services, but with greater internet speeds, businesses will enjoy enhanced efficiency and productivity. Additionally, greater internet connectivity opens up opportunities for new business, employment opportunities, and revenue growth.
RTI International, an independent nonprofit research institute, reports that 2Africa will improve Africa's GDP by up to 0.58 percent, equivalent to about 36.9 billion USD at PPP (Purchasing Power Parity, currency conversion that attempts to equalize the purchasing power of different currencies) within the first two to three years of operations. This is a very conservative estimate since more countries have been added to the cable design since the study was published.
2Africa is designed to serve Africa and better connect the world with Africa. 2Africa lands in two sites in Egypt (Ras Ghareb and Port Said) that were selected precisely to assure physical and geographical diversity. On the Red Sea, 2Africa lands at the Ras Ghareb landing site which is located 100 Km south of the Zafarana cable landing station, whereas the Mediterranean landing site, Port Said, is located 250 Km east of the Alexandria landing station. Both Ras Ghareb and Port Said are connected with two new and diverse terrestrial routes that include the deployment of next-generation fibre. The routes are adjacent to the Suez Canal from Suez to Port Said and are complemented with a third new marine path linking the Ras Ghareb and Suez landing stations.
stc (center3) has provided a strategic branch into Yanbu, Saudi Arabia, from where onward connectivity is available into center3 Jeddah MENA Gateway carrier neutral data center (MG1). From MG1, clients can cross-connect to various ecosystem tenants including international and regional carriers, cloud providers, and content delivery networks, and onward connectivity through the Middle East. 2Africa's connectivity into MG1 gives new, low latency access to content and cloud services previously accessed via distant content delivery networks in Europe.
Additionally, 2Africa will provide expanded connectivity to Asia through interconnection with two subsea cables, SEA-ME-WE 5, and AAE-1. Two other cables will connect to 2Africa and further complement the capacity of connectivity to Asia and Europe via the PEACE and IAX/IEX (RFS in 2024).
This benefits Africa by improving the availability of connectivity to and from a wide range of international markets, lowering the wholesale cost of such capacity, and providing an increased range of options to reliability on the continent.
Under the open access principle, the operator of every 2Africa cable landing station must provide effective wholesale access to the international capacity at fair and reasonable prices and on transparent and non-discriminatory terms. This model should enhance competition for international bandwidth providers and lead to better broadband connectivity to consumers at competitive rates.
The 2Africa consortium has agreed to work collectively to facilitate an open access system. We have a range of options to penalize cable landing station operators that fail to provide fair access to the international capacity brought ashore by the 2Africa system. Notably, cable landing station operators may be disconnected from the 2Africa system if they do not provide fair and equitable access to capacity at their landing points.
The 2Africa cable will implement new technology, SDM1 from ASN, to allow up to 16 fibre pairs instead of the 8 fibre pairs supported by older technologies, to deliver much greater and more cost-effective capacity. The cable will incorporate optical switching technology to enable flexible management of bandwidth, increased cable burial depth by up to 50% compared to older systems, and routing to avoid locations of known subsea disturbance to ensure the highest levels of availability.
2Africa will have a design capacity of up to 180 Tbps at launch on key parts of the system with upgrade possibilities depending optical engineering development in the coming years.
One of the most important features of the 2Africa cable is that it has been designed with resiliency in mind to attain optimum performance. Building on that, Telecom Egypt provides 2Africa with brand-new trans-Egypt terrestrial crossing routes, complemented by a third marine path in the Red Sea with the option for a seamless optical path between East Africa and Europe.
2Africa lands in two sites in Egypt (Ras Ghareb and Port Said) that were selected precisely to assure physical and geographical diversity. On the Red Sea, 2Africa lands at the Ras Ghareb landing site which is located 100 Km south of the Zafarana cable landing station, whereas the Mediterranean landing site, Port Said, is located 250 Km east of the Alexandria landing station. Both Ras Ghareb and Port Said are connected with two new and diverse terrestrial routes that include the deployment of next-generation fibre. The routes are adjacent to the Suez Canal from Suez to Port Said and are complemented with a third new marine path linking the Ras Ghareb and Suez landing stations.