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JOHANNESBURG, Aug 16 - Facebook and a team ofAfrican and global telecoms companies will add four morecountries to its world's largest subsea cable project, wideningthe build project in Africa earlier than planned, they said in ajoint statement on Monday.
Internet connectivity will be expanded to the Seychelles,the Comoros Islands, Angola and bring a new landing point tosouth-east Nigeria. This is in addition to the recentlyannounced extension to the Canary Islands, the companies said.
The consortium of the project, called 2Africa, comprisesSouth Africa's MTN GlobalConnect, Facebook,Mauritius-based infrastructure provider WIOCC, China MobileInternational, France's Orange SA, SaudiArabia's stc, Telecom Egypt and Vodafone.
Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN) has been selected to deploythe new "branches", which will increase the number of 2Africalandings to 35 in 26 countries, further improving connectivityinto and around Africa, they added.
"Most of the subsea route survey activity is now complete.ASN has started manufacturing the cable and building repeaterunits in its factories in Calais and Greenwich to deploy thefirst segments in 2022," the companies said.
The consortium launched the cable, which is expected to golive in late 2023, in May 2020 to connect those countries inAfrica, the Middle East and Europe.
Subsea cables form the backbone of the internet, carrying99% of the world's data traffic.
Africa's big economies have a large and fast growingpopulation of internet users, with growth in internet usefuelled by rapidly expanding mobile broadband networks and moreaffordable phones.
However, with a population of just above 1.3 billion, Africais still a laggard in internet connectivity, with average mobileinternet users at around 26% against a world average of 51%. REUTERS