Bayobab and Africa50 have signed a partnership to develop Project East2West, a terrestrial fibre optic cable network connecting the eastern shores of Africa to those on the continent’s west.
The partnership will invest up to US$320 million connecting ten African countries over the years 2023, 2024 and 2025. Bayobab is wholly owned by MTN Group. This investment is within MTN’s previously announced Ambition 2025 plans and will contribute to Bayobab reaching the Group’s target of having 135,000km of proprietary fibre over the coming three years.
“This partnership with Africa50 comes at an opportune time, just as we rebrand MTN GlobalConnect to Bayobab to position the business as an Africa-focused open-access digital infrastructure platform,” said MTN Group President and CEO Ralph Mupita. “The alliance is more than cables and connections; it is about building bridges of connectivity that span nations and bring people closer together.”
“For landlocked African countries, Project East2West will improve latency by almost two-thirds and increase capacity to support high-quality broadband access. In this way, it will level the playing field and ensure that everyone has a fair chance to succeed in the digital world,” he added.
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. It is expected to cut latency by up to 65% on the east-to-west route.
Bayobab CEO Frédéric Schepens said: “Guided by the belief that everyone deserves the benefits of a modern connected life, we see the provision of digital infrastructure as critical in driving digital transformation, weaving African countries together and connecting them to the rest of the world.”
He added: “Africa’s connectivity relies on strategic and global partnerships coming together to build the much-needed large-scale backbone infrastructure to meet the explosive demand for digital services. We are looking forward to Project East2West meeting the connectivity demands to power digital services, bridging the digital divide across Africa, and paving the way for the sustainable digital societies of tomorrow.”
As a co-developer, Africa50 is fostering the harmonisation of regional data and security regulations, boosting consumption of local content throughout the region and promoting inter-regional exchanges and regional economic development.
Africa50 CEO Alain Ebobissé said: “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.”
The development of Project East2West is expected to be completed in 2025.