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Sunday 24th October, 2021

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2Africa Extends To the Arabian Gulf, India, And Pakistan

– Now the Longest Subsea Cable System in the World

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The 2Africa PEARLS Map

The 2Africa consortium, comprised of China Mobile International, Facebook, MTN GlobalConnect, Orange, stc, Telecom Egypt, Vodafone and WIOCC has announced the addition of a new segment – the 2Africa PEARLS branch – extending to the Arabian Gulf, India, and Pakistan.

This extension will bring the total length of the 2Africa cable system to over 45,000 kilometres, making it the longest subsea cable system ever deployed.

Now connecting three continents, Africa, Europe and Asia terrestrially through Egypt, 2Africa creates unique connectivity by adding vital landing locations in Oman (Barka), UAE (Abu Dhabi and Kalba), Qatar (Doha), Bahrain (Manama), Kuwait (Kuwait), Iraq (Al-Faw), Pakistan (Karachi), India (Mumbai), and a fourth landing in Saudi Arabia (Al Khobar).

The new 2Africa branch joins recently announced extensions to the Canary Islands, Seychelles, Comoros Islands, Angola, and a new landing to southeast Nigeria.

As with other 2Africa cable landings, capacity will be available in PEARLS landings at carrier-neutral facilities or open-access cable landing stations on a fair and equitable basis, encouraging and supporting the development of a healthy internet ecosystem.

To further support a burgeoning global digital economy, the expanded system will serve an even wider range of communities that rely on the internet for services from education to healthcare, and businesses, providing economic and social benefits that come from increased connectivity.

As announced in May 2020, 2Africa was planned to directly bring seamless international connectivity to 1.2 billion people.

Today, with 2Africa PEARLS, 2Africa will be providing international connectivity to an additional 1.8 billion people–that’s 3 billion people, representing 36% of the global population.

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Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN) will deploy the new system utilizing new technologies such as SDM that allow the deployment of up to 16 fibre pairs, double that of older technologies and bringing greater and more cost-effective capacity.

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Over Half World’s Population Now Using Mobile Internet- Report

GSMA Research Shows 3.4 Billion People Do Not Use Mobile Internet Despite Living in Areas with Mobile Broadband Coverage

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Photo Credit: GSMA website

On Tuesday at the MWC Africa in Kigali, Rwanda, the GSMA launched its global State of Mobile Internet Connectivity Report 2021 showing that, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, more than half of the world’s population is now using the mobile internet.

Mobile internet usage translates to just over 4 billion connected people,  225 million more compared to 2019, and up from a third of people globally just six years ago.

Even with this impressive growth in mobile internet connectivity, both in terms of mobile internet coverage and usage, the report highlights that work must accelerate to bridge the digital divide.

Of the 3.8 billion people who remain unconnected, only 450 million people do not live in areas with mobile broadband coverage, (“the coverage gap”). The coverage gap represents a significant improvement year on year.

The far bigger challenge is the 3.4 billion people who live in areas that are already covered by mobile broadband, but are not using it, (“the usage gap”).

The report examines trends in the coverage and usage of mobile internet over the last six years and identifies the key barriers to mobile internet adoption.

It also looks at the early impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the most significant regional effects.

Finally, it makes recommendations to help close the digital divide and ensure greater access to mobile internet connectivity.

“The COVID-19 pandemic made clear the importance of mobile internet access to people’s lives and livelihoods and has accelerated the digital transformation around the world.

“Mobile is the primary and often the only way to access the internet in low- and middle-income countries. While more people than ever are now using the mobile internet, some fundamental barriers stop far too many people from using mobile internet.

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“To close this usage gap, all of us – government and industry – need to do more,” says the GSMA’s Chief Regulatory Officer, John Giusti.

“In particular, we must address the key barriers to usage of mobile internet services, most notably literacy and digital skills, as well as affordability. Only through targeted and collaborative action can we bridge the digital divide.”

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2Africa Consortium Lands In South-East Nigeria, As It Announces New Cable Branches

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Photo Credit: Capacity Media

The 2Africa consortium has announced the addition of four new branches to the 2Africa cable.

The branches will extend 2Africa’s connectivity to Seychelles, the Comoros Islands, and Angola, and bring a new landing to south-east Nigeria.

The new branches join the recently announced extension to the Canary Islands.

2Africa consortium comprises of China Mobile International, Facebook, MTN GlobalConnect, Orange, STC, Telecom Egypt, Vodafone and WIOCC.

2Africa, which will be the largest subsea cable project in the world, will deliver faster, more reliable internet service to each country where it lands.

Communities that rely on the internet for services from education to healthcare, and businesses will experience the economic and social benefits that come from this increased connectivity.

Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN) has been selected to deploy the new branches, which will increase the number of 2Africa landings to 35 in 26 countries, further improving connectivity into and around Africa.

As with other 2Africa cable landings, capacity will be available to service providers at carrier-neutral data centres or open-access cable landing stations on a fair and equitable basis, encouraging and supporting the development of a healthy internet ecosystem.

Since launching the 2Africa cable in May 2020, the 2Africa consortium has made considerable progress in planning and preparing for the deployment of the cable, which is expected to ‘go live’ late 2023.

Most of the subsea route survey activity is now complete. ASN has started manufacturing the cable and building repeater units in its factories in Calais and Greenwich to deploy the first segments in 2022.

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One of 2Africa’s key segments, the Egypt terrestrial crossing that interconnects landing sites on the Red and the Mediterranean Seas via two completely diverse terrestrial routes, has been completed ahead of schedule.

A third diverse marine path will complement this segment via the Red Sea.

 

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WWW Day: Experts Task Policymakers On Accessible Ubiquitous Internet

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A group of panelists at a panel session at the event

Policymakers at both the federal and state levels in Nigeria have been called upon to put in more efforts that would result in Nigerians having access to ubiquitous Internet.

This call was made by experts who converged on Monday at a conference in Lagos, commemorating the 2021 World Wide Web Day organized by the Centre for Cyber Awareness and Development (CECAD).

The experts argued that ubiquitous and affordable Internet will easily lead to more Nigerians lashing on to the digital economy being pursued and championed by the federal ministry of communications and digital economy.

Engr. Ikechukwu Nnamani, President of the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), insisted that Nigeria has made a commendable impact in the growth of internet-based innovations.

He posited that a country like Nigeria, with over 154.3 million basic Internet users must do everything within its resources to key into the digital economy.

“The point is the Internet and its related technologies play a major role in the growth and performance of a digital economy, which is the trend all over the world with people doing online buying and selling, banking transactions, transportation, improving education and developing societies,” he said.

A cross-section of participants at the event

Engr. Nnamani, who is also the Chief Executive Officer of Medallion Communications Limited, an Interconnect clearinghouse and Data Centre operator added that the growth of the Internet has led to the development of digital technologies helping to transform the economy of the country in several ways.

He argued that what the government needs is to continue to build on the existing infrastructure and provide security for them.

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Also speaking on the need to have a robust internet infrastructure to drive the digital economy, Ms. Erene Omijeh, Enterprise Sales Lead at Infobip Nigeria said the digital economy must be powered by structured solutions and services that enable businesses to build connected customer experiences across multiple communication channels.

She noted that some of the key challenges for businesses in the pursuit of today’s digital economy are customer reach and customer engagement, authentication and security and support and retention.

Omijeh assured that as a company that enables life-changing interactions for every human on earth, Infobip is already addressing that by creating seamless interactions between businesses, people and things.

’Our role in the digital economy pursuit is to build connected customer experiences across multiple communication channels with our customer engagement platform, which powers a broad range of solutions, messaging channels, and tools for advanced customer engagement, authentication, security, support, and retention,” she disclosed.

Meanwhile, Mr. Tony Ojobo, the President of the African ICT Foundation, while speaking on the ‘The Imperative of Digital Inclusion in the New African Digital Economy,’ noted that information is power, but lamented that in this part of the world, citizens, especially those in the rural areas lacked access to life-saving information.

He attributed this to a lack of access to the internet, leading to a large number of both urban and rural populations being unable to afford Digital/ Smart devices to be able to key into the digital economy.

“There can be no digital economy without affordable and accessible Internet in the country. Government should invest massively in Broadband services to address the cost of services, which may hinder the digital economy drive,” he said.

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Ojobo opined that with pervasive broadband infrastructure across the country, the issue of out-of-school children can be addressed by leveraging online learning, which is aided by the Internet.

The Internet he said, is a Fundamental Human Right (FHR) and must be guaranteed for all, stressing that any attempt to infringe on this right will stifle innovation and creativity, which will hurt the African economy.

He also advised that ethical and responsible use of the internet is, however, necessary to maintain sanity, adding that citizens have the responsibility of ensuring that contents are truthful, responsible and contribute to the development of society.

Some participants pose for a photograph at the event

The World Wide Web Day celebration was organized by the Centre for Cyber Awareness and Development (CECAD) to discuss the impact of the internet, the opportunities of emerging technologies for business, raising additional awareness and exploring the strategies of safety on the web for individuals and businesses, infrastructure companies and innovators.

“We have decided to join the rest of the world to celebrate the impact of the Internet on businesses and the government. Today’s conference provides a platform for sharing an organizational vision and strategic plan to drive the National ICT revolution and the digital space,” Dr. Bayero Agabi, National Coordinator of CECAD said in his welcome address.

He explained that World Wide Web Day is a global celebration dedicated to web browsing, online activity that brings a wealth of knowledge to the fingertips as well as a chance to celebrate the way the internet created an environment for collaboration and business growth, while also taking a deeper look into its evolution over the past three decades since its invention by Sir Tim Berners-Lee.

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“Today’s event, being the first of its kind in Nigeria is meant to leverage the opportunities the World Wide Web presents, look at policies to grow the space and create a sane and secure Nigeria digital society. We are all expected to share our organizational vision and strategic plan to drive the national digital plan to grow a sustainable digital economy,” he added.

Among the dignitaries in attendance at the event, were the Director-General of the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), Engr. Aliyu Aziz; Managing Director Galaxy Backbone Limited (GBB), Prof. Muhammed Bello Abubakar; President, Nigeria Computer Society (NCS), Prof. Adesina Sodiya; President of ATCON, Engr. Ikechukwu Nnamani; Former President NCS, Alhaji Ladi Oguneye; Chief Executives of IT companies and other relevant stakeholders.

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