Strategic Investments in 2Africa Cable Systems Deepens Digital Inclusion in Tanzania

By Guardian Correspondent , The Guardian
Published at 11:34 AM Jul 01 2024
Dinesh Balsingh, Managing Director of Airtel Tanzania.
hoto: File
Dinesh Balsingh, Managing Director of Airtel Tanzania.

Tanzania is set to experience a significant leap in digital connectivity with the activation of the 2Africa submarine cable landing station, which recently went live. This milestone which is managed by Airtel Tanzania underscores the importance of deliberate investments in bridging the digital divide in the country.

The 2Africa submarine cable system spans 45,000 kilometers, making it the world’s largest subsea cable project. It aims to improve communication for over 3 billion people across Africa, Asia, and Europe in 43 locations across those continents. 

According to Dinesh Balsingh, Managing Director of Airtel Tanzania, the 2Africa cable will deliver high data capacity, excellent connectivity, resilience, and redundancy to the ICT ecosystem, meeting current and future digital industry demands. Balsingh added that Airtel's services cover 80% of rural areas with 4G network technology, and the 2Africa cable will provide a strategic platform for all mobile operators and internet service providers.

“We recently experienced an unforeseen internet outage that negatively impacted businesses. With this cable landing station, that will be history. Airtel Tanzania is ensuring that the country does not suffer such internet outages in the future because the subsea cable elevates the internet connectivity 10 times more than the capacity speed we were working with,” he detailed.

Balsingh further added, “The rapid launch of the project in Tanzania sets a positive precedent, demonstrating the government's ability to facilitate necessary approvals and licenses. This endorsement is expected to attract further investments. Airtel investments underscores its commitment to reducing Tanzania's digital divide and enhancing digital inclusion through robust broadband connectivity.”

In his speech at the launch of the 2Africa Subsea Cable, Airtel Africa’s outgoing Group CEO, Segun Ogunsanya, emphasized that the initiative aligns with the the government’s strategy to build a digital economy.

During her speech, which was witnessed by the Prime Minister, the Minister of Information and Communication Technology Nape Nnauye, Former President Dr. Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, and other distinguished members, President Dr. Samia Suluhu Hassan commended Airtel for achieving this milestone. She urged for the effective use of ICT to catalyse the development of other sectors.

“I was happy to hear that Airtel is ready to bring into the country not only its international traffic, global players, and satellite services but also new technology. We urge Airtel to continue sharing best practices to make the digital hub dream a reality. I am sure all these interventions will provide jobs for our youth and support different sectors,” she said.

Investments like the 2Africa submarine cable are vital for providing fast fiber broadband internet, which supports the government's efforts to develop a digital economy. A World Bank study in 2009 indicated that a 10% increase in broadband penetration could boost GDP growth by 1.38%. RTI International's research from 2009 to 2014 showed significant employment growth near fiber infrastructures, with an 18.7% increase in employment likelihood within 200 meters of fiber in Tanzania.

RTI International's research data suggests that broadband connectivity will progressively benefit more individuals, particularly youth and women in the microeconomic sector, addressing poverty and boosting digital inclusion. With the 2Africa cable supporting Tanzania’s fast-growing data economy, it is crucial for the government to continue engaging in partnership projects like Airtel SMARTWASOMI and Vsomo. These digital literacy initiatives will help create a digitally literate workforce and society, maximizing the potential of the digital landscape.

Deliberate investments in capacity-building projects like SMARTWASOMI can complement and amplify the benefits of the 2Africa cable system, ultimately achieving Tanzania’s goal of becoming East Africa’s digital gateway.

Any technology company interested in joining their capacities through the cable system can reach out to Airtel Tanzania through [email protected] or call our representative, Yassin Hemed, at +255 784 670055.