Google builds new cable to connect South Africa and Australia

May 29, 2024

Google is building a new submarine cable that will connect Africa and Australia

Called Umoja, which is the Swahili word for unity, Google says it is the first fibre-optic route to directly connect Africa with Australia.  Umoja joins other under-sea cables − such as Seacom, ACE, SAT-3, 2Africa, Equiano, WACS, SAFE and EASSy − that connect South Africa to the rest of the world.

Anchored in Kenya, the Umoja cable route will pass through Uganda, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa, including the Google Cloud region, before crossing the Indian Ocean to Australia, says Google in a statement.  It notes Umoja’s terrestrial path was built in collaboration with Liquid Intelligent Technologies, to form a highly-scalable route through Africa, including access points that will allow other countries to take advantage of the network.

Umoja joins Equiano in an initiative called Africa Connect, Google says, adding the new cable will enable African countries to more reliably connect with each other and the rest of the world.

Google officially unveiled its Equiano submarine internet cable in Cape Town in 2022, in which the tech giant has invested a total of $1 billion (R17 billion). Equiano runs from Portugal, along the west coast of Africa to South Africa.  At the time, the company said the Equiano cable will boost South Africa’s gross domestic product by R120 billion.  On Umoja, Google says establishing a new route distinct from existing connectivity routes is critical to maintaining a resilient network for a region that has historically experienced high-impact outages.  The announcement comes as several subsea cables linking Africa experienced outages that impacted internet connectivity in Africa.

“We are grateful for the partnership from leaders across Africa and Australia to deliver Africa Connect to people, businesses and governments in Africa and around the world,” says Meg Whitman, US ambassador to Kenya.  Whitman is a tech executive who previously served as CEO of companies such as HP and eBay.  “Access to the latest technology, supported by reliable and resilient digital infrastructure, is critical to growing economic opportunity. This is a meaningful moment for Kenya’s digital transformation journey and the benefits of today’s announcement will cascade across the region,” she comments.

“I am delighted to welcome Google’s investment in digital connectivity, marking a historic milestone for Kenya, Africa and Australia,” says William Ruto, president of the Republic of Kenya. “The new intercontinental fibre-optic route will significantly enhance our global and regional digital infrastructure. This initiative is crucial in ensuring the redundancy and resilience of our region’s connectivity to the rest of the world, especially in light of recent disruptions caused by cuts to subsea cables. “By strengthening our digital backbone, we are not only improving reliability, but also paving the way for increased digital inclusion, innovation and economic opportunities for our people and businesses.”

“Diversifying Australia’s connectivity and supporting digital inclusion across the globe are both incredibly important objectives, and Google’s Umoja cable will help to do just that,” notes Michelle Rowland, Australian minister for communications. “Australia welcomes Google’s investment and congratulates all those involved in undertaking this crucial initiative.” “Africa’s major cities − including Nairobi, Kampala, Kigali, Lubumbashi, Lusaka and Harare − will no longer be hard-to-reach endpoints remote from the coastal landing sites that connect Africa to the world,” says Strive Masiyiwa, chairman and founder of Liquid. “They are now stations on a data superhighway that can carry thousands of times more traffic than currently reaches here. I am proud that this project helps us deliver a digitally-connected future that leaves no African behind, regardless of how far they are from the technology centres of the world.”

Original full article here 

About the AI Media Group

The AI Media Group is a South African based industry analysis, publishing & business events consultancy specialising in the 4IR / smart tech sector in Africa.  They are curators of AI Expo Africa, the continent’s largest B2B/B2G Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Robotic Process Automation (RPA) trade show and publishers of Synapse, the first quarterly trade magazine charting Africa’s 4IR innovation journey. The group also runs AI TV which hosts discussions on trends in AI and 4IR technologies with local, regional and global thought leaders.

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