Bayobab, a fully owned MTN subsidiary, has completed a partnership with Africa50 to build a terrestrial optic fibre cable network connecting the Eastern shores of Africa to those on the continent’s Western region.

The Project East2West will impact ten African countries including Nigeria over a period of three years, from 2023 to 2025. It will also ensure that Bayobab reaches MTN Group’s target of having 135000km of proprietary fibre over the coming three years.

Although MTN did not list the countries, Nigeria is likely to be among the countries that will benefit from the infrastructure deployment. The company recently launched a 5G network at a commercial level and is planning to deploy fibre infrastructure to support the network in the coming months.

Bayobab is the new name for MTN GlobalConnect and it would now be positioned as an African-focused open-access digital infrastructure platform.

According to Ralph Mupita, MTN Group President and CEO, the partnership is more than cables and connections.

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“It is about building bridges of connectivity that span nations and bring people closer together,” Mupita said. “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.”

The company noted that the partnership will also 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 percent on the east-to-west route.

“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. 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.” Bayobab CEO Frédéric Schepens said.

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.

“Project East2West is a remarkable and transformative project that will step-change Africa’s internet capacity expansion drive by supporting the growth and development of 4G and 5G,” said Africa50 CEO Alain Ebobissé. “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.”

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