Bayobab, a subsidiary of MTN Group, has announced a collaboration with Africa50 to build a terrestrial fibre optic cable network that would run across Africa. Called Project East2West and riding on a $320 million investment, the project aims to connect the eastern and western shores of Africa across 10 countries.
Project East2West which is scheduled for completion in 2025, aligns with MTN’s Ambition 2025 plans. This investment will contribute to Bayobab’s goal of achieving 135,000km of proprietary fiber within the next three years.
The project is expected to help bridge Africa’s connectivity gap by improving broadband access for landlocked African countries. It also expected to offer substantial improvements for data traffic in Africa while boosting consumption of local content throughout the region and promoting regional economic development.
Finally, the project is expected to reduce latency by up to 65% along the east-to-west route while enhancing the region’s capacity to support high-quality broadband access.
For businesses and organisations, the partnership will offer substantial improvements in data traffic for internet service providers, mobile network operators and hyper scalers operating in these countries. It will also bridge the bottlenecks in global internet traffic landing in and going out of Africa.
Speaking on this partnership, Africa50 CEO, Alain Ebobissé in a statement said,
Project East2West is a remarkable and transformative project that will step-change Africa’s internet capacity expansion drive by supporting the growth and development of 4G and 5G…This is an important project that will have a significant impact on Africa’s quest to make the Internet accessible to most of its growing population. Partnering with a large pan-African company like Bayobab and MTN is important to roll out such an impactful cross-border project.
Bayobab rebrands from MTN GlobalConnect for strategic transformation
This new collaborative plan is coming a day MTN GlobalConnect, the Pan-African digital wholesale services company, rebranded to its new identity “Bayobab” which signifies the company’s strategic transformation.
Bayobab aims to connect Africa through its two distinct businesses, Bayobab Fibre and Bayobab Communication Platforms. This repositioning reinforces Bayobab’s commitment to providing open next-gen digital solutions across the continent.
Speaking on this rebranding, MTN Group President and CEO Ralph Mupita said,
Building the largest and most valuable platforms is part of our Ambition 2025 strategic priorities. The brand change from MTN GlobalConnect to Bayobab reflects the change underway to position the business as a world-class, Africa-focused open-access digital infrastructure platform serving not just MTN but other third parties as customers. We will also bring strategic partners into the business over time who will provide skills and capital to support and accelerate the growth of this business.
The rebrand marks the initial stage of the business transformation process following the announcement of MTN Group’s Ambition 2025 strategy. According to Bloomberg, Bayobab plans to roll out a total of 135,000 kilometers, out of the at least 500,000 kilometers of fiber optic cables that Africa needs, by 2025.
MTN pushing for the No 1 spot as Africa’s fiber player
MTN Group is dedicated to securing its position as a leading provider of faster broadband infrastructure in Africa. Their focus lies in reducing latency and expanding the reach of fiber optic cable network infrastructure, both through subsea and terrestrial means. By building scalable capacity and ensuring resilience, MTN Group aims to enhance connectivity across the continent.
In line with this vision, MTN South Africa and MTN GlobalConnect joined forces with the 2Africa consortium and other industry players in December 2022. Together, they announced the landing of the 2Africa cable, stretching over 45,000 kilometers, in Yzerfontein and Duynefontein, South Africa.
However, while the undersea lines bring fast broadband to coastal cities, inland cables are needed to further connect land-locked countries and these Wireless carriers in Africa are increasingly investing in infrastructure as they seek to make money from services offered on their networks.
African telecom sector hitting the spotlight
Africa’s telecommunications sector is experiencing a significant surge in investment, driving rapid growth and transformation across the continent. According to a report published on Quartz Africa, the industry is attracting substantial financial commitments, fueling advancements in infrastructure, connectivity, and digital services.
As global interest in Africa’s telecom market intensifies, investors are recognizing the immense potential and untapped opportunities it holds. Companies like Facebook, Google, and Microsoft are increasingly investing in infrastructure projects and partnerships to expand their reach and deploy innovative solutions tailored to the African market.
In 2019, Facebook reportedly planned to build a $1 billion undersea cable infrastructure around Africa. In March and April of 2022, Google’s funded internet submarine cable, Equaino landed in Nigeria and Togo.
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