Google Partners Econet’s Liquid in Africa with New Undersea Cable to Australia

Masiyiwa Strive
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Google is set to expand its significant presence in Africa with a groundbreaking initiative to enhance connectivity on the continent. The tech giant has announced the construction of the first-ever fibre optic route linking Africa with Australia.

Dubbed the “Umoja cable route,” this new undersea cable will anchor in Kenya and traverse Uganda, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and South Africa before crossing the Indian Ocean to reach Australia.

Alphabet, Google’s parent company, has invested heavily in global connectivity infrastructure to broaden its footprint, recognizing the immense potential of emerging markets. Google estimates that 300 million people in Africa will come online in the next five years.

In collaboration with Liquid Intelligent Technologies, Google has designed a scalable route across the continent, incorporating access points that will enable other countries to connect to the network more reliably.

“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,” said Strive Masiyiwa, Chairman and founder of Liquid Intelligent Technologies.

“They are now stations on a data superhighway that can carry thousands of times more traffic than currently reaches here.”

Google is building the first fiber optic cable connecting Africa and Australia

While the terrestrial segment of the project is complete, the complex task of laying the cable across the Indian Ocean to Perth, Australia remains. This challenging phase has no confirmed timeline for completion.

In addition to the cable project, Google plans to work with the Kenyan government on several initiatives, including cybersecurity, data-driven innovation, digital upskilling, and the deployment of AI for societal benefits. The Department of Immigration & Citizen Services is already evaluating Google Cloud’s CyberShield solution for its eCitizen platform.

Google’s expansion in Africa began in 2007 with the opening of its first Sub-Saharan Africa office in Nairobi. Since then, it has partnered with various African governments on numerous digital initiatives.

In 2021, Google pledged to invest $1 billion in Africa over five years, focusing on improved connectivity and startup funding. To date, it has invested over $900 million and aims to fulfill its commitment by 2026.

The Umoja cable is not Google’s first major cabling project in Africa. In 2019, the company announced the Equiano cable, a private subsea cable connecting Portugal and South Africa, which extends connectivity along the West Coast of Africa. Equiano marked Google’s third private international cable after Dunant and Curie, and its 14th subsea cable investment.

This latest endeavor underscores Google’s commitment to enhancing digital infrastructure in Africa, positioning the continent for significant growth in internet connectivity and technological advancement.