Facebook Goes Underwater Swimming To Expand Internet Access In Africa
By Ericka Kamanou-tenta
- Facebook superheads 2Africa and joins Apricot Subsea cable system project in boosting Africa’s internet connectivity
- Out of 1.2B people in Africa, only 40% have internet access
In order to close the inequity gap of internet access in Africa, Facebook (FB -1.32%) launched its 2Africa project in partnership with several international telecom operators. The project’s ultimate goal is to build an underwater ring of 35 landings in 26 African countries, with the recent addition of four new branches including the Seychelles, Comoro Islands, Angola and Nigeria. This initiative is a major come up for businesses because about one out of four Africans have internet access, and expanding access could create more customers.
Why This Matters: Africans face the most expensive internet charges in the world. The average cost of mobile broadband data across the continent is 7.12% more than average monthly income, while the Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4A1) defines affordability at no more than 2% of monthly salary. Such excessive prices explains why a majority of the African population remains disconnected from the rest of the world.
Moreover, Facebook’s three-stage project which is named after the lead character in “The Lion King”, Simba, has been proposed to be ‘uniquely ambitious’ by Industry Executives. In fact, the underwater cable will establish an important link between Facebook’s European and Asian data centers and growing African markets. This will in turn deliver faster and more secure internet services in both Africa and Asia. Other partner companies like MTN Group and Vodafone PLC would also benefit from the Simba system.
“The 2Africa subsea cable system will provide nearly three times the total network capacity of all the subsea cables serving Africa today”, said Facebook director of network investments Kevin Salvadori.
What’s Next: Facebook is not the only mega tech company diving underwater to expand Africa’s networking infrastructure. Google’s Alphabet (GOOG +1.33%) balloon-powered internet program is also on a mission to better connect Africa with Europe through a subsea cable project called Equiano. Given that competition has a positive impact in development sectors, the existing rivalry between the two companies will promote dynamic markets and economic growth on the continent.
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