MTN ‘s $320 M Fiber Cable Investment catalyses African Growth

By Joseph Ekeng

MTN Group, the largest mobile-phone operator in Africa, has announced plans to invest $320 million in building a new inland fiber cable that will connect ten countries on the continent. The move comes as telecommunications companies strive to expand their services to cater to Africa’s growing population.

MTN revealed that the project, named East2West, will be undertaken by its subsidiary, MTN GlobalConnect, in collaboration with the Africa50 infrastructure investment agency. Construction is scheduled to begin in the fourth quarter of this year. The initiative will involve the installation of approximately 20,000 kilometers (12,400 miles) of new cable, expanding the existing fiber network by over 100,000 kilometers.

This endeavor follows MTN’s recent venture to construct a sub-sea cable that reached South Africa’s Cape Town late last year, aiming to establish connections between African nations, Europe, and the Middle East. While undersea cables have enabled high-speed broadband access in coastal cities, the development of inland cables is crucial to linking landlocked countries and extending connectivity throughout the continent.

Wireless carriers in Africa are increasingly investing in infrastructure to capitalize on the services offered on their networks. MTN is currently in the process of separating its infrastructure wholesale firm, GlobalConnect, which will be rebranded as Bayobab. The company plans to deploy a total of 135,000 kilometers of fiber by 2025, generating potential revenue of up to $1 billion.

According to MTN, Africa requires at least 500,000 additional kilometers of fiber optic cables to meet its connectivity needs. This demand has attracted investments from wireless carriers and prominent US tech giants like Google and Facebook, who are striving to provide improved internet access to Africa’s young, rapidly expanding, and tech-savvy population.

The construction of the new MTN fiber cables will be executed in three phases, spanning several countries including Kenya, Nigeria, and Congo. Once completed, these cables will significantly enhance the speed of services such as video streaming and cloud computing. The final phase of the project is expected to be finalized by 2025.

The impact of this project on African consumers, particularly in Nigeria, is expected to be substantial. Nigeria serves as MTN’s largest customer base, with millions of users relying on its mobile services. The deployment of the East2West fiber cable will provide Nigerian consumers with faster and more reliable internet connectivity, enabling them to access a wide range of online services seamlessly.

With the growing demand for internet connectivity on the continent, this initiative will contribute to bridging the digital divide and empowering African consumers, including Nigeria, with improved access to digital services and opportunities.






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