2AFRICA - FAQ'S
A list of our frequently asked questions
Q1: What is 2Africa?
A: 2Africa is one of the largest subsea cable projects in the world running 37,000 km long, connecting Europe, the Middle East, and 16 countries in Africa, and will provide internet capacity and reliability across much of the Middle East and Africa supporting the growth of 4G, 5G, and fixed broadband access for hundreds of millions of people and businesses.
Q2: Will it provide increased access to all of Africa?
A: 2Africa will connect 16 countries in Africa and 23 in total. The system has four landings in South Africa and two each in Mozambique and Egypt, so a total of 21 landings in Africa and 28 in total. Delivering more than the total combined capacity of all subsea cables serving Africa today, with a design capacity of up to 180Tbps on key parts of the system, 2Africa will provide much needed internet capacity and reliability across much of the Middle East and Africa supporting the growth of 4G, 5G, and fixed broadband access for hundreds of millions of people.
Q3: Which partners are involved in each country?
A: Working with local partners, China Mobile International, Facebook, MTN GlobalConnect, Orange, stc,Telecom Egypt, Vodafone and WIOCC will partner to build 2Africa. Telecom Egypt will provide 2Africa with brand-new transEgypt crossing routes, with the option to have a seamless optical path between East Africa and Europe.
Q4: What makes 2Africa different compared to other subsea cables?
A: 2Africa is the first cable system designed to serve the whole of Africa, interconnecting the east and west seaboards of Africa. The cable further supports the continent by providing full connectivity to the Middle East via its landing in Yanbu, through stc in Saudi Arabia.
The 2Africa cable will implement a new technology, SDM1 from ASN, allowing deployment of up to 16 fibre pairs instead of the 8 fibre pairs supported by older technologies, bringing much greater and more cost-effective capacity. The cable will incorporate optical switching technology to enable flexible management of bandwidth, with the cable burial depth increased by 50% compared to older systems, and cable routing will avoid locations of known subsea disturbance, all helping to ensure the highest levels of availability.
One of the most important features of the 2Africa cable is that it has been designed with resiliency in mind to attain the optimum performance. Building on that, Telecom Egypt will provide 2Africa with brand-new trans-Egypt terrestrial crossing routes, with the option to have a seamless optical path between East Africa and Europe. 2Africa will land in two sites in Egypt that were selected precisely to assure physical and geographical diversity. On the Red Sea, 2Africa will be landing 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 will be adjacent to the Suez Canal from Suez to Port Said, and will be complemented with a third new marine path linking the Ras Ghareb and Suez landing stations.
Q5: What is SDM1, and what are the benefits for 2Africa?
A: SDM (Spatial Division Multiplexing) is the latest innovative technology currently available for submarine cable and ASN was the first to introduce it to the market in 2016 (Suboptic’16). The idea is to use multiple paths to transport the capacity instead of a limited number of paths that will be pushed to their limits and consequently will not be efficient. SDM1 is a future-proof technology and a first stage in ASN strategy to be continued with SDM2.
SDM is the most efficient technology to date and brings major economic benefits thanks to lower and optimised price per bit, meaning that more capacity can be provided for the same price.
Moreover, as SDM is reducing the capacity per fibre, 2Africa will have the ability to offer parts of a fibre (spectrum sharing) and also a full independent fibre with reasonable capacity compared to traditional smaller pipes.
Q6: What impact will this have in the countries where there are landing stations?
A: In countries where the 2Africa cable will land, service providers will obtain capacity at carrier-neutral data centres or open access landing stations, on a fair and equitable basis. This will support healthy internet ecosystem development by facilitating greatly improved accessibility for businesses and consumers alike.
Q7: How many partners are involved and what is the role/interest of each?
A: With eight 2Africa parties and two key suppliers involved, all with focused roles, what brings them together is the desire to build greater connectivity and deliver increased internet speeds for much of Africa. The 2Africa parties will each own a share of the capacity delivered by the 2Africa system; the parties have contracted with Alcatel Submarine Networks (“ASN”) to build the subsea cable; and Telecom Egypt will provide 2Africa with brand-new transEgypt terrestrial crossing routes, with the option to have a seamless optical path between East Africa and Europe. 2Africa will land in two sites in Egypt that were selected precisely to assure physical and geographical diversity. On the Red Sea, 2Africa will be landing in Ras Ghareb landing site which is located 100 Km south of the Zafarana 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 and includes the deployment of next generation fibre , the routes will be in vicinity with the Suez Canal from Suez to Port Said, and will be complemented with a third new marine path linking Ras Ghareb and Suez landing stations.
Q8: What is the day one capacity of 2Africa and its future upgrade capability?
A: 2Africa is expected to have a design capacity of up to 180Tbps at launch on key parts of the system. Future upgrade capability will be dependent on developments in optical engineering over the coming years.
Q9: When do you expect the cable to be completed?
A: We are currently working for a cable completion date in 2023/early 2024.
Q10: In which countries will it land and when?
A. The landing countries are listed on the accompanying graphic(see the main graphic on our Home Page). Landings are scheduled to take place between end-2021 and end-2023.
Q11: What is the relationship between 2Africa and Simba?
A: 2Africa and Simba are one and the same, with Simba being the internal name used for the project pre-launch.
Q12: Why name the cable 2Africa?
A: The name chosen reflects the region that this cable will ultimately support. The cable system will deliver better and much-needed capacity ‘to Africa’, from the Europe, West/Middle East and Asia.
Q13: Will my data cost less?
A: In the countries where the 2Africa cable lands, service providers will be able to access capacity at carrier-neutral data centres and open-access cable landing stations on a fair and equitable basis. This will support healthy internet ecosystem development enabling needed accessibility whilst supporting the growth of 4G, 5G, and fixed broadband access for hundreds of millions of people. Ultimately local pricing will be set by operators.
Q14: What connectivity does 2Africa provide into the Middle East?
A: stc have provided a strategic branch landing in Yanbu, Saudi Arabia, from where onward connectivity is available into stc’s Jeddah MENA Gateway Carrier Neutral Data centre (MG1). MG1 gives tenants the ability to onward connect to the whole of the Middle East region as well as to take onward capacity on other subsea and terrestrial networks.
Q15: Why is the 2Africa cable connecting the Middle East and how is this benefitting Africa?
A: Whilst the new cable system is called 2Africa, it is designed to serve key locations East to West. stc have provided a strategic branch into Yanbu, Saudi Arabia, from where onward connectivity is available into stc’s Jeddah MENA Gateway Carrier Neutral Data centre (MG1). From MG1 clients are able to cross-connect to various ecosystem tenants such as International/Regional Carriers, Cloud providers and Content Delivery Networks. MG1 also gives the ability to onward connect to the whole Middle East region. The ability for Africa to access the best connected DC Hub in the Region will be beneficial to Africa as it enables new, low latency access to Content and Cloud services previously accessed via distant CDNs in Europe.
Q16: What connectivity does 2Africa provide into Asia?
A: Through interconnection in East Africa, 2Africa will provide expanded connectivity between the African continent and Asia, via subsea cables including the two latest cables, SEA-ME-WE 5 and AAE-1
Q17: How is the 2Africa cable benefiting Asia?
A: In view of the active business interaction between Africa and Asia, the 2Africa cable can provide more direct, economic, stable and low latency connection from Asia to African countries through interconnection in East Africa and the Middle East with sufficient capacity to accommodate current and future demand.
Q18: When will construction start, and when will it be ready for service?
Work is already commencing on preparation for the marine surveys, including desk-top studies of the detailed routing of the cable. Component manufacture is expected to start by the end of 2021, and cable laying will start in 2021. We are currently working for a cable completion date in 2023/early 2024.
Q19: How will COVID-19 affect the deployment of 2Africa?
We will continue to monitor and review any potential impact this could cause, and will take appropriate action to comply with guidance and good practice in dealing with the consequences of COVID-19.
Q20: Who will own/manage the landing stations?
A. 2Africa cable landing stations will be owned and managed by 2Africa parties or, where necessary by experienced local partners managed by one of the 2Africa parties.