With the expected eight additional new submarine cables projected to berth in Africa in the coming years, telecommunication experts have predicted an astronomical increase in Africa’s submarine cable market and broadband penetration.
The experts spoke at a recent webinar event, where MainOne, provider of connectivity and data centre services for businesses in West Africa, joined founding submarine operators, Ciena to discuss Africa’s emerging submarine cable market and its impact on broadband penetration.
The telecoms experts were of the view that with the eight new cables projected in the coming years, the African continent would be presented as a veritable fulcrum for critical discourse among top industry players at any intercontinental event.
They said the development would help Africa to play a crucial socio-economic role in the increase of critical connectivity options to close the digital divide, while connecting Africa to the rest of the digitised world.
“Over the last four years, Africa’s emerging digital market has recorded the fastest growth rate and is the clear leader of international bandwidth growth globally. The eight new cables projected in the coming years, will help to further deepen broadband penetration across Africa,” the telecoms experts said.
They explained that as the world’s second most populous continent with 1.4 billion people and covering 20 per cent of the planet’s landmass, adequate availability of digital infrastructure across the African continent would play a crucial socio-economic role that would further enhance Africa’s development, given the fact that currently, only 25 per cent of the 1.4 billion African people are connected.
Citing different global statistics that discussed how Africa’s submarine cable penetration is driving broadband penetration across the African continent, the experts said Africa had the highest compound annual growth rate in broadband penetration across the world from 2016-2020, which they attributed to the faster coverage of submarine broadband cable across Africa.
One of the global statistics, as presented by the telecoms experts, showed that Africa had the highest compound annual growth rate of over 55 per cent within the period of 2016 and 2020, followed by Asia, which had about 53 per cent growth rate and the United States of America and Canada, which had about 50 per cent growth rate, within the same period. The statistics also showed that the compound annual growth rate for other continents of the world, within the same period of 2016-2020, were Europe with 48 per cent growth rate, Oceania with 43 per cent growth rate, Middle East with 38 per cent growth rate and Latin America with 33 per cent growth rate.
In Nigeria, which is the most populous country in Africa, its broadband penetration level reached 39.79 per cent, with broadband subscriptions figure of 75.95 million, as at July 2021, as released recently by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), a figure that increased from 30. 04 per cent broadband penetration in December 2018. The growth has been attributed to the berthing of various submarine cables at the shores of the country, by Glo1, MainOne, MTN WACS, Sat3 and 2Africa Consortium.
Giving further details about Africa’s submarine cable coverage that has driven broadband penetration on the African continent, the Chief Technical Officer of MainOne, Anil Verma, who joined Ciena to discuss Africa’s emerging submarine cable market and its impact on broadband penetration, highlighted the critical role that MainOne has been playing in deepening broadband penetration and enabling digital growth in Africa.
He hinted that MainOne remains the only multinational to boast of service coverage in 10 West African countries, connected to IXs in London, Amsterdam, Lisbon, Marseille and Frankfurt, Lagos, Accra and Abidjan with three additional IP transit ports, with Tier 1 Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in Europe.
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“Bearing in mind that submarine cables carry close to 99 per cent of the world’s intercontinental electronic communications traffic, Africa requires access to this global submarine network infrastructure to fully benefit from an international digital economy. In a bid boost connectivity, MainOne maintains over 50 Points of Presence (PoPs) across Africa and Europe that move data traffic across her network and her Tier III data centre subsidiary – MDXi, with headquarters in Lagos. The company also lands her submarine cable in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire where she equally operates data centres in Accra and Abidjan,” Verma said.
The combination of a submarine cable network, terrestrial metropolitan fiber infrastructure, data centre assets, and broad interconnect ecosystem makes MainOne a key enabler of digital transformation across West Africa, Verma added.