Google Launches Historic Submarine Fiber Optic Cable Linking Africa with Australia


Following widespread internet outages in Eastern Africa caused by faulty undersea cables, Google has announced its plans to build the first-ever subsea fiber optic cable connecting Africa and Australia.

Internet infrastructure has long been a significant challenge in the effort to improve internet access in various African regions. According to a World Bank report, sub-Saharan Africa had the lowest internet penetration rate globally in 2021, with just 43% of the population having access. This lack of connectivity impedes economic growth and development.

The project, named “Umoja” (meaning “unity” in Swahili), is a significant advancement for Africa’s limited cable infrastructure, which has experienced numerous connectivity challenges in the past. Its aim is to establish a more dependable link, enabling African nations to better connect with one another and the global community.

The cable, developed in partnership with Liquid Technologies for its terrestrial section, will begin in Kenya and traverse through Uganda, Rwanda, Congo, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, ultimately reaching South Africa. The strategic positioning is deliberate, as South Africa hosts Google’s inaugural African data center, which was launched earlier this year.

Google’s move is part of a broader trend where cloud companies such as Meta, Microsoft, and Amazon are investing in subsea infrastructure globally. These underwater cables form the backbone of the internet, resulting in faster data transfer speeds, reduced latency, and an enhanced overall user experience.

Umoja isn’t Google’s inaugural African subsea cable project. Google also participated in the Equiano cable, which connected Portugal with Nigeria and South Africa in 2022 as a part of the Africa Connect initiative.

Earlier this year, Google unveiled plans for a new cable connecting South America with the Asia-Pacific region, stretching from Chile to Australia through French Polynesia.

Although Google has not specified an exact completion date for Umoja, experts predict that a typical subsea cable project takes approximately three years, indicating that Umoja could be operational by 2026. Once completed, it will provide essential reliable and resilient digital infrastructure, which is crucial for enhancing economic opportunities in Africa.




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