A study conducted by Analysys Mason, which highlights how Facebook investments in infrastructure and connectivity across the Sub-Saharan African region, has identified how the social media giant will deliver over $57 Billion in economic benefits over the next five years (2020–2024) to the continent.
The study titled ‘Impact of Facebook’s Connectivity Initiatives in Sub-Saharan Africa’, also noted that Facebook has over the years invested in infrastructure and partnerships to address the barriers to connectivity, such as the lack of availability in infrastructure, affordability, relevance and readiness to get online.
The investment initiatives will be channeled into Infrastructure that supports internet connectivity. These infrastructures include Submarine cables, which will enable an increase in the supply of international bandwidth, reduction in costs for ISPs and resulted in a combination of more connectivity and lower prices for end-users.
Facebook is set to unveil 2Africa cable, one of the largest Subsea cable projects in the world, which will circle the African continent, landing in 16 African countries. It will triple the capacity currently provided by all the subsea cables serving Africa today further supporting the growth of 4G, 5G and broadband access for hundreds of millions of people.
Other investments are Edge networks, which will enable ISPs and MNOs to access content on Facebook’s platform closer to their own networks, increasing service quality and reducing costs while cutting international connectivity and transit costs for operators and improving user experience. Backhaul fiber investments through Open Transport Networks (OTNs)- Facebook’s investment in OTNx has seen it deploy 770 kilometers of fiber in Uganda in partnership with operator BCS and Airtel and 750-800 kilometers in Nigeria with infrastructure provider MainOne which has enabled an extension of 3G/4G coverage to over 4 million people.
A further 100 kilometers of fiber haul has been deployed in South Africa for Wi-Fi in partnership with operator Vast. An estimated 700,000 people in Uganda and 300,000 people in Nigeria got online earlier than they would have without the OTNx investments, producing an economic impact of almost USD4 billion between 2020 and 2024.
Accordingly, Facebook will also support Mobile Operators through facilitation initiatives such as Express Wi-Fi. Facebook has deployed Express Wi-Fi solutions across SSA enabling local ISPs and operators to establish low-cost access networks. The solutions which are currently available in Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania are helping bring more people online and stimulate data usage and Internet traffic overall.
The investment will also go into Rural Access partnerships- Facebook has invested in two Rural Access partnerships (Africa Mobile Networks- AMN in Cameroon and Democratic Republic of Congo, and BRCK in Kenya and Rwanda) that focus on reducing the costs of rolling out broadband in less populated and poorer rural areas.
Facebook’s Africa Public Policy Director, Kojo Boakye, commented: “At Facebook we’re committed to Africa and the role that we can play in improving the continent’s global competitiveness. Over the last three years we’ve heavily invested in infrastructure and connectivity initiatives that aim to affordably connect people on this continent and create tangible social-economic benefits. These efforts are part of a complex solution that requires all stakeholders – including mobile operators, infrastructure providers and governments – to work together for the common good. We are only 1% finished and remain committed to this exciting journey and working with all our partners along the way.”