2Africa: The world’s longest subsea cable

  • The 2Africa subsea cable is the 16th submarine cable deployed in Marseille. But this one has the specificity of being the longest in the world. At 45,000 km, it is longer than the circumference of the Earth.
  • The 2Africa subsea cable aims to transform the digital ecosystem in Africa, Asia, and Europe and revolutionise connectivity in Africa.
  • Deploying the longest subsea cable presents challenges related to environmental resilience, geopolitical coordination, and significant financial and logistical demands.

The “2Africa” subsea cable holds the title of the longest subsea cable in the world. Spanning an astonishing 45,000 kilometres, this cable system is designed to connect 33 countries across Africa, Europe, and Asia. When completed, it will be longer than the circumference of the Earth.

The 45,000 km-long 2Africa subsea cable

The 45,000 km-long 2Africa subsea cable has now reached the Port of Marseille. Initiated by Meta, this record-breaking cable will connect 33 countries across Africa, Europe, and Asia, ultimately serving 3 billion people when it becomes fully operational in 2024. The Marseille installation follows previous successful deployments in the ports of Genoa and Barcelona earlier this year. Digital Realty, formerly known as Interxion, will host the termination equipment in its data centres located in the port of Marseille.

Also read: Google is investing $1 billion in subsea cables connected to Japan

This marks the 16th submarine cable deployment in Marseille, and it is the longest subsea cable in the world. At 45,000 km—exceeding the circumference of the Earth—the 2Africa cable is poised to transform the digital landscape in Africa, Asia, and Europe, significantly enhancing connectivity in Africa.

Also read: CMC Networks sets satellite to respond to subsea cables damage

Initiated by Meta, the 2Africa consortium includes several key partners such as Vodafone, Orange, ASN, and China Mobile. Initial discussions about the project began in 2018, with the contract signed in March 2020. Installation operations have been ongoing since January 2022, with key points in Djibouti, Genoa (Italy), Barcelona (Spain), and now Marseille (France). The project plans for 45 landing stations along the route. By 2024, it will connect 33 countries, representing 3 billion people or 36% of the world’s population.

The cable, resembling a large garden hose, was installed at sea in Marseille by a cable ship. It was visible in its pulling chamber, buried in the port of Marseille. From there, it connects to a land cable that links to the termination equipment inside Digital Realty’s data centres.

The purpose and impact of the 2Africa cable

The 2Africa subsea cable aims to provide robust and high-speed internet connectivity to regions that are often underserved by current infrastructure. Here’s why this cable is significant:

Bridging the digital divide: Many parts of Africa suffer from limited internet access. The 2Africa cable is set to transform this by providing high-capacity and low-latency connections, thus promoting digital inclusion.

Economic growth: Enhanced internet connectivity can spur economic growth by facilitating e-commerce, improving access to education and healthcare, and attracting investments.

Global connectivity: By linking multiple continents, the 2Africa cable ensures that data can be transmitted more efficiently across the globe, benefiting international businesses and enhancing global communications.

Challenges in deploying the longest subsea cable

Environmental factors: The ocean environment is harsh, with potential threats from underwater earthquakes, strong currents, and marine life. The cable must be designed to withstand these conditions.

Geopolitical issues: The cable crosses numerous territorial waters, requiring coordination and agreements between multiple countries.

Cost and logistics: The sheer scale of the project involves substantial financial investment and logistical planning, from manufacturing and transporting the cable to maintaining it over its lifespan.


Jinny Xu

Jinny Xu is an intern reporter at Blue Tech Wave specialising in Fintech and AI. She graduated from Chongqing Institute of Foreign Studies.Send tips to j.xu@btw.media.

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