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Africa: Africa’s International Bandwidth Reaches 7.939 Tbps in 2017

Cables, customers, and capacity: since the first Africa Telecom Transmission Map was published in 2009, Africa’s terrestrial fibre optic cable networks have expanded more than 3 times, bringing more than half of the population of sub-Saharan Africa within reach of an operational fibre optic network, and its international Internet bandwidth capacity has increased by more than 100 times.

According to the tenth annual edition of the Africa Telecom Transmission Map published by Hamilton Research for 2018/9, the inventory of operational fibre optic network reached 936,102-km by June 2018 compared to 278,056-km in June 2009 (see chart 1 below). The number of people in sub-Saharan Africa living within reach of an operational fibre optic network more than doubled to 556 million (54.2%) by June 2018 (see Fibre Reach maps below). And Africa’s international Internet bandwidth reached 7.939 Tbps by December 2017, compared to just 67 Gbps in December 2007 (see chart 2 below).

Chart 1: Route-Kms of Terrestrial Transmission Network, Africa 2009 - 2018
Subscribers can access the route kilometre datasets by logging in.

Terrestrial Fibre Networks Reach 936,102-Km

The tenth edition of the Africa Transmission Map shows the networks which are operational, under construction, planned and proposed for a total of 310 network operators and 63 submarine cable systems.

Africa’s total inventory of terrestrial transmission networks increased to 1,389,475-km by June 2018, compared to 1,254,413-km in 2017, 1,179,010-km in 2016, 1,019,649-km in 2015, 958,901-km in 2014 and 905,259-km in 2013. In June 2009, the total inventory of terrestrial transmission networks was 465,659-km (see chart above). This total network inventory includes both terrestrial microwave and fibre networks which are operational, under construction, planned and proposed.

By June 2018 the amount of operational fibre optic network reached 936,102-km, compared to 820,397-km in 2017, 762,167-km in 2016, 622,930-km in 2015, 564,091-km in 2014 and 524,847-km in 2013. In June 2009, the total fibre inventory was 278,056-km.

In the twelve months since June 2017, an additional 115,705-km of fibre optic network has entered service, an average of 317-km of new fibre optic network entering service per day. In addition, there was in June 2018 a further 133,542-km of fibre optic network under construction, 92,919-km planned, and 49,881-km proposed.

2018/9 Africa Telecom Transmission Map

Click here for larger view. To order your copy of the 2018/9 Africa Telecom Transmission Map click here.The 2018/9 Africa Telecom Transmission Map is sponsored by Liquid Telecom.

Fibre Networks Reach 54.2% Of Sub-Saharan Africa

The expansion of terrestrial transmission networks continues to bring additional countries, regions, cities and towns within reach of fibre networks for the first time. In June 2018, 556 million people lived within a 25-km range of an operational fibre optic network node; in June 2010 there were 259 million people. During the last eight years, network expansion has brought more than 297 million more people within access to high capacity national and international backbone networks.

In June 2018, 54.2% of the population in Sub-Saharan Africa (556 million) lived within a 25-km range of an operational fibre optic network node. This compared to 52.1% (522 million) in 2017, 48.1% (469 million) in 2016, 45.8% (436 million) in 2015, 41.8% (371 million) in 2013, 40% (345 million) in 2012, 36.3% (313 million) in 2011, and 30.8% (259 million) in 2010.

The Fibre Reach map for June 2009 shows that 19 African countries were not yet connected to submarine cables. The EASSy, LION, SEACOM, SEAS, and TEAMS cables had not yet landed in East Africa, nor the ACE, GLO-1, Main One, NCSCS, or WACS cables serving West Africa. In most countries the limited extent of national fibre backbones meant that many secondary cities and towns were not connected to the capital city. And many countries were not yet connected to their neighbours.

By September 2018 only 3 countries were not yet connected by fibre to submarine cables: Central African Republic, Eritrea, and South Sudan. Every seaboard country except Eritrea and Guinea Bissau had at least one submarine cable landing, and the SACS and SAIL cables running directly to the Americas had entered service. National fibre backbones were much more extensive, and the closure of cross-border gaps meant that there were contiguous interconnected terrestrial fibre optic networks running from Cape Town (South Africa) to Cairo (Egypt) (see also Africa: Africa’s Fibre Reach Increases By 32 Million, To 40% Of Population and Egypt: Telecom Egypt and Liquid Telecom Announce MoU Enabling First Interconnected Fibre Network From Cape Town To Cairo).

Fibre Reach Map Q3 2018

Click here for the Fibre Reach map, showing the historic development and extent of Africa's operational fibre optic networks and nodes each year since June 2009.

Fibre Reach Map Q2 2013

Satellite transmission remains extremely important for Africa, with satellite bandwidth covering every square kilometre of Africa and providing connectivity beyond the reach of terrestrial transmission networks. By June 2018 there were still 724 million people living beyond a 10-km range, 469 million beyond a 25-km range, and 244 million beyond a 50-km range of an operational fibre optic network node.

The supply of satellite capacity is also changing. In particular, the latest generation of Ka-band satellites in service have considerably more capacity than C-band and Ku-band satellites. Before the first submarine cable entered into service in Kenya during July 2009, 100% of Kenya’s international bandwidth was supplied by satellite. In June 2009, Kenya had reached 1.985 Gbps supplied entirely by satellite, but this dropped sharply to 770.6 Mbps by December 2009, 209.6 Mbps in 2010, 108 Mbps in 2011, and 83 Mbps in 2013. The amount of satellite bandwidth then increased slightly to 106 Mbps in 2014 and 270 Mbps in 2016, but then increased dramatically to 4.487 Gbps by December 2017 (see Kenya: Kenya’s International Bandwidth Reaches 916 Gbps, December 2017). Kenya has never used so much satellite bandwidth.

Fibre Reach Map Q2 2009

Africa’s International Bandwidth Reaches 7.939 Tbps

Africa’s total inbound international Internet bandwidth reached 7.939 Tbps by December 2017. This was a 34% increase compared to 5.930 Tbps 2016, 4.506 Tbps in 2015, 2.982 Tbps in 2014, 2.023 Tbps in 2013, and 1.482 Tbps in 2012 (see also Africa: Africa’s International Bandwidth Reaches 5.825 Tbps in 2016). Ten years ago in December 2007, Africa’s total bandwidth was just 67 Gbps. All of Africa’s international bandwidth is supplied by submarine cables, terrestrial networks connected to submarine cables, or satellite.

The chart below shows that the total international bandwidth of 7.939 Tbps in 2017 was split between Sub-Saharan Africa, which increased by 25% to reach 4.138 Tbps, and North Africa which increased by 45% to reach 3.800 Tbps. Excluding Kenya, which only increased by 6.5% to 916 Gbps in 2017 (source: Communications Authority), the total bandwidth for other countries in Sub-Saharan Africa increased by 31% to reach 3.222 Tbps in December 2017.

Chart 2: Africa International Internet Bandwidth, 2007 - 2017
Click legend items to show or hide data for each region. Subscribers can access the international bandwidth datasets by logging in.

Terrestrial Cross Border Traffic Increases By 38%

The amount of bandwidth capacity which is activated (equipped) and sold is increased by increments in line with demand. During 2017, 17 African countries saw annual growth over 50%, and five saw growth over 100%. For example Niger’s international Internet bandwidth increased by 211% to reach 5.6 Gbps in 2017 (see Niger: Niger’s International Bandwidth Triples During 2017), Rwanda increased by 145% to reach 25.4 Gbps in 2017 (see Rwanda: Rwanda’s International Bandwidth Reaches 25.370 Gbps During 2017), and Malawi increased by 95% to reach 11.7 Gbps in 2017.

Of the total activated/ sold bandwidth of 4.138 Tbps in Sub-Saharan Africa by December 2017, 334 Gbps (8.1%) was supplied by terrestrial cross-border networks connected to submarine cables. The completion of new cross-border links, and the expansion of capacity on others, has seen the volume of intra-regional traffic backhauled to submarine cable landing points increase by 38% in the last year to reach 334 Gbps in December 2017. This compares to 242 Gbps in 2016, 136 Gbps in 2015, 103 Gbps in 2014, 61 Gbps in 2013, and 45 Gbps in 2012. Ten years ago in December 2007 the amount of international bandwidth supplied by terrestrial cross-border networks connected to submarine cables was just 747 Mbps.

New Trans Atlantic Routes Boost Submarine Cable Capacity

Of the total activated/ sold bandwidth of 4.138 Tbps in Sub-Saharan Africa by December 2017, 3.793 Tbps (91.7%) was supplied directly by submarine cable. This total of 3.793 Tbps was a 24% increase compared to 3.066 Tbps in December 2016. Ten years ago in December 2007, the amount of international bandwidth supplied by submarine cable was 60 Gbps.

There is plenty of room for future growth: this figure of 3.793 Tbps is still less than 3% of the total design capacity of at least 134.5 Tbps that is potentially now available on the 23 submarine cables serving the region in December 2017. This total design capacity has increased from 94.4 Tbps on 20 operational cables in 2016, 70.4 Tbps on 18 cables in 2015, 60.3 Tbps on 18 cables in 2014, 27.1 Tbps on 18 cables in 2013, and 27.1 Tbps on 18 operational cables in 2012. Ten years ago in December 2008, there was a total design capacity of 3.9 Tbps on 7 operational cables in 2008. This total design capacity will increase to 230.5 Tbps by the end of 2018 with the entry into service of the G2A, SAIL, SACS and FLY LION3 submarine cables during the year.

The key development during 2018 has been the entry into service during September of two cables directly connecting Africa to the Americas: the SAIL submarine cable running from Kribi (Cameroon) to Fortaleza (Brazil) (see Cameroon: Installation of SAIL Submarine Cable Linking Cameroon To Brazil Completed), and the SACS submarine cable from Sangano (Angola) to Fortaleza (Brazil) (see Angola: SACS Submarine Cable Enters Commercial Service). This will change the direction, volume and latency of international Internet bandwidth both from within Africa, and as a new transit route between the Americas and Asia. By the end of 2018 nearly a third of the total design capacity on cables (72 Tbps) landing in sub-Saharan Africa (230.5 Tbps) will connect directly to the Americas rather than Europe or Asia.

About Us

Hamilton Research is a specialist provider of research, analysis and GIS cartographic services for telecom markets in Africa and other developing regions. We undertake customised research and consulting projects for a range of clients, with projects ranging from the research and production of maps-to-order and the development of market metrics.

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Paul Hamilton
Hamilton Research Ltd.,
Bath Brewery, Toll Bridge Road,
Bath BA1 7DE, UK
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http://www.africabandwidthmaps.com

Printed from: http://www.africabandwidthmaps.com/?p=5822 .
© Hamilton Research Ltd 2018.

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