Facebook, US social media giant wants to shape the future by supplying internet access to every person on earth. This way it can unleash huge, untapped markets for its products. Controversies about how the company handles user data have done nothing to dampen the zeal with which the company is driving into far-flung corners of the globe.
Sub-Saharan Africa’s rapidly expanding population has led Facebook to lead the construction of 2Africa. 2Africa is an ambitious 37,000km-long underwater cable around Africa, the Middle East, and the Mediterranean. Facebook hopes to supply faster, cheaper internet through 2Africa to 16 African countries by 2024.
To kickstart the 2Africa project, Facebook is partnering with eight established carriers to lay a cable with an African link stretching from Senegal to the Suez Canal via the Cape. It says 2Africa will provide nearly three times the total network capacity of all the subsea cables serving Africa today.
Silicon Valley has identified the African internet infrastructure as a high growth investment opportunity. According to Google, their subsea Equiano cable – which will travel from Portugal to South Africa with a branching unit to Nigeria – will have 20 times more network capacity than the last cable built to serve the region. Facebook is expected to pump an initial $1bn into 2Africa.
Why 2Africa is Important to Facebook
Emerging markets lead at Facebook’s Network Investments, Ibrahima Ba says “Covid-19 has shown how important internet access is. You cannot provide 21st century education to someone who does not have the internet. Also, he says the focus on Africa is because just 25% to 30% of Africans are online, which increases inequality.
“I’ve been to places in Africa where people have told me that they would rather see a mobile network tower than have reliable electricity. This is why 2Africa is super, super important for education, and to provide access to the jobs of the future.”