The consortium behind the planned 2Africa submarine cable system, which includes Facebook and MTN Group as backers, has announced that the project will be expanded even further, making it the world's longest submarine cable system.

The system will be stretched to the Arabian Gulf, India, and Pakistan through a new segment called the 2Africa Pearls branch.

"This extension will bring the total length of the 2Africa cable system to over 45 000km, making it the longest subsea cable system ever deployed," the consortium said in a statement on Tuesday.

The expansion of the 2Africa project follows Facebook and Google's announcement last month that they will collaborate on an Asia-Pacific subsea cable project set to debut in 2024.

The new 2Africa branch joins recently announced extensions to the Canary Islands, Seychelles, Comoros Islands, Angola, and a new landing to south-east Nigeria.

Facebook's participation in the installation of undersea cables is part of the company's global infrastructure commitments, which aim to bring faster and more dependable internet to many parts of the world, particularly those that are currently without it.

The 2Africa consortium comprises China Mobile International, Facebook, MTN GlobalConnect of South Africa, Orange of France, STC of Saudi Arabia, Telecom Egypt, U.K.'s Vodafone, and Wiocc, an investor in the Eassy cable system along Africa's east coast.

The consortium expects the 2Africa cable network to deliver connectivity to 3 billion people, or around 36% of the world's population, according to Facebook VP of Networking Infrastructure Kevin Salvadori in a blog post on Tuesday.

Africa is at the heart of the cable system, with barely a quarter of the continent's population having access to the internet. According to Facebook, the 2Africa system will deliver three times the present network capacity of all undersea cables now serving the continent.

The original 2Africa route, unveiled in May 2020, would have provided international access to 1.2 billion people in markets across Africa. The Pearls extension will bring the cable system's total population to three billion people, or 36% of the world's population.

The consortium did not disclose when the cable system will be ready for commercial service or how much the expanded venture will cost in total.