CBx Daily

Facebook Goes Underwater To Connect Africa To The Internet

Jul 6

By Jennifer Ford

  • Facebook is spearheading 2Africa, a subsea internet cable project that will surround the continent and is nearly the length of Earth
  • Currently, only about 1 out of 4 Africans have internet access

Facebook (FB -1.74%) hopes to close the inequity gap of internet access in Africa through 2Africa, a subsea cable project that aims to interconnect 23 countries in Africa, the Middle East and Europe. The project calls for a 22,991 mile, or 39,000 km of cable that will surround Africa, just shy of the circumference of Earth. Currently, about one out of four Africans have internet access, making this a move a major come up for the continent.

Why This Matters: Facebook previously attempted, but failed at this goal through solar-powered drones in 2018. Not to mention, that many people in Africa cannot afford it because of monopolized provider areas. As we previously reported, the cost of paying for internet is more than 7% of monthly income across the continent, in some cases costing more than 1/5 of average earnings, while the Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI) caps affordability at 2% of monthly income.

The cost of paying for internet is more than 7% of monthly income across the continent

In addition to adding more internet providers to drive cost down, Facebook is partnering with Johannesburg-based MTN Group, Telecom Egypt, Vodafone and Orange SA to use the underwater cable to provide reliability to a greater number of Africans. The cable will be built by Nokia Oyj’s Alcatel Submarine Networks, and it will run along the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, Indian Ocean, Mediterranean Sea and Red Sea.

“Like all of our investments, 2Africa is being completed as part of our efforts toward an open and inclusive internet ecosystem, which is a vital part of the continent’s digital economic growth...service providers will obtain capacity in carrier-neutral data centers and open-access cable landing stations on a fair and equitable basis,” Facebook posted. Facebook hopes to complete the project by 2024.

Situational Awareness: Facebook is not the only mega tech company with its eyes set on expanding networking infrastructure in Africa. As we’ve covered, Alphabet recently greenlit Loon, Google’s (GOOG +1.85%) balloon-powered internet program, first tasked with connecting the rural and suburban areas of Kenya. The web search giant is also working on a potentially competitive subsea cable project called Equiano, which focuses on better connecting Africa with Europe.

CBx Vibe: Internet Going Nutz” Paul Wall

About Jennifer: She is a former HBO Production Risk Executive, now spending her days as a Marketing Consultant for MOWE, nights podding about all the things, and her in-betweens blogging about the seriousness and silliness of life. Follow Jennifer on Twitter: @reneseford or Instagram: @oksoblog