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How China Is Leading The Network Competition To Connect Africa

Credit: TechGenez

China will construct a 3,700-kilometer-long underwater cable to bring enhanced network services to Africa and the Middle East, which is home to about 1.8 billion people. Chinese mobile in partnership with US Tech firm Facebook, South Africa’s MTN, France’s Orange, Britain’s Vodafone, and other networks are set to undertake the above-mentioned project.

Dubbed 2Africa, it will be one of the longest undersea cable projects in the world. It has 21 landing projects in 16 African countries, which will enable the integration of networks in Africa, Europe, and the Middle East. A transfer station in East Africa will also connect with undersea cables and extend further to Asia. It is expected to be operational by 2023/2024.

Is 2Africa a digital silk road?

Some observers believe that Digital Silk Road is part of an overarching plan to realize the Belt and Road initiative, however, China sees it as a way to enhance its digital connectivity abroad, and complete its ascendency to global technology domination.

It also aims to create a China-centric digital infrastructure, exporting industrial overcapacity establishing access to large pools of data, and creating a technological conduit to export Chinese soft power.

Studies by Steven Feldstein, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, have shown how Chinese firms like Huawei and Dahua are establishing surveillance networks, high tech censorship tools, and supplying advanced social media monitoring capabilities to African countries.

An example corroborating Steven Feldstein’s studies is when in 2014 Safaricom-Kenya’s telecom giant- partnered with Huawei’s to deploy over 1,800 CCTV camera’s in Nairobi.

With the growth of our youthful population in Africa, bandwidth demand in Africa is massive.

According to data by Submarine Cable Networks, Africa’s international bandwidth has grown at a rate of 45% annually between 2015 and 2019.

In order to meet this rising demand, China is positioning itself as a reliable source of digital service provision for Africa. This explains why they are aggressively pursuing the building of a subsea cable system.

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