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MTN’s Bayobab pens a $320m fibre optic cable deal with Africa50

Africa50 and Bayobab in partnership to develop pan-African terrestrial fibre.
Africa50 and Bayobab in partnership to develop pan-African terrestrial fibre.

Bayobab, formerly MTN GlobalConnect, has penned a $320 million agreement with infrastructure investment firm Africa50 to develop Project East2West, a terrestrial fibre optic cable network.

Bayobab – an MTN Group operating company – announced the partnership yesterday, saying the aim of the project is to connect 10 African countries to the cable network between now and 2025.

In a statement, Bayobab said, the Project East2West partnership will help bridge Africa’s connectivity gap, by improving broadband access for landlocked African countries. It will also offer substantial improvements for data traffic in Africa, the company added.

The project will promote regional economic development and boost consumption of local content. .

“The partnership will offer substantial improvements in data traffic for internet service providers, mobile network operators and hyperscalers 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% on the east-to-west route,” said Bayobab.

Furthermore, the company notes this investment will contribute to Bayobab reaching the group’s target of having 135 000 km of proprietary fibre over the coming three years.

Currently, Bayobab has 107 000 km of proprietary fibre, of which 2 000 km was rolled out in the first quarter of this year.

MTN Group president and CEO Ralph Mupita commented: “The alliance is more than cables and connections; it is about building bridges of connectivity that span nations and bring people closer together.”

“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.”

Bayobab CEO Frédéric Schepens added: “The provision of digital infrastructure is critical in driving digital transformation, weaving African countries together and connecting them to the rest of the world.”

He continued: “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.”

Speaking for Africa50, CEO Alain Ebobissé, said: “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.

“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 MTN’s Bayobab,is important to roll out such an impactful cross-border project.” 

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