Google announces Umoja, 1st fibre optic cable connecting Africa to Australia through Kenya

David Afolayan
Google announces Umoja, 1st fibre optic cable connecting Africa to Australia, through Kenya

Today, Google announced plans to build a new fibre optic cable called Umoja. This new digital infrastructure will connect Africa to Australia. The project aims to increase digital connectivity, accelerate economic growth, and deepen resilience across Africa.

Umoja is the Swahili word for unity. The cable joins Equiano in an initiative called Africa Connect. Recall that Google announced the arrival of its mega subsea cable, Equiano to Lagos, Nigeria, just a month after its first African landing in Togo last April. The project has been named after Nigerian-born writer and abolitionist, Olaudah Equiano (also known as Gustavus Vassa).

Equiano was fully funded by Google. It was the company’s third private international cable, following Google’s investment after Dunant and Curie. And, it is Google’s 14th subsea cable investment globally.

The cable which starts in Portugal runs more than 12,000km along the West Coast of Africa- through Lomé, Togo; Lagos, Nigeria; Swakopmund, Namibia; Rupert’s Bay, Saint Helena and Melkbosstrand, South Africa.

Equiano Route Map

Read more: All you need to know about Google’s 144 terabit-per-second capacity subsea cable, Equiano

Umoja will enable African countries to have a more reliable broadband connection and compete favourably with the rest of the world. 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.

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

In an official statement, Google expressed it is grateful for the partnership with leaders across Africa and Australia to deliver Africa Connect to people, businesses, and governments in Africa and around the world.

Google announces Umoja, 1st fibre optic cable connecting Africa to Australia, through Kenya

Meg Whitman, Ambassador to Kenya explained that this is a meaningful moment for Kenya’s digital transformation journey. She also noted that the benefits of today’s announcement will cascade across the region. “Access to the latest technology, supported by reliable and resilient digital infrastructure, is critical to growing economic opportunity. Speaking on the development, Meg Whitman, U.S”, she said.

As part of the collaboration, Google Cloud and Kenya have announced their intention to work together to strengthen Kenya’s cybersecurity.

The Department of Immigration & Citizen Services is evaluating Google Cloud’s CyberShield solution and Mandiant expertise to strengthen the defence of its eCitizen platform. CyberShield enables governments to build enhanced cyber threat capabilities, protect web-facing infrastructure, and help teams develop skills and processes that drive effective security operations.

In addition to today’s infrastructure announcement, Google will sign a Statement of Collaboration with Kenya’s Ministry of Information Communications and The Digital Economy to accelerate joint efforts in cybersecurity, growing data-driven innovation, digital upskilling, and responsibly and safely deploying AI for societal benefits.

In his reaction, the President of the Republic of Kenya, His Excellency Dr William S. Ruto expressed his delight to welcome Google’s investment in digital connectivity that will mark a historic milestone for Kenya, Africa, and Australia

“The new intercontinental fibre optic route will significantly enhance our global and regional digital infrastructure. By strengthening our digital backbone, we are not only improving reliability but paving the way for increased digital inclusion, innovation, and economic opportunities for our people and businesses”, he concluded.

Similar: Weeks after shutting Lagos facility, Microsoft announces plan to invest $1 billion, build data centre in Kenya

 Google is actively supporting digital transformation in Africa

Recall that the global tech giant opened its first Sub-Saharan Africa office in Nairobi in 2007 to drive partnership conversations with governments from countries across Africa on numerous digital initiatives.

Google has been playing a critical role in investing in a secure technology infrastructure to connect communities, expand education, and drive healthy economic development within Africa.

AI for Good: How Google is building AI solutions to global problems in Africa

In 2021, the company committed to investing $1 billion in Africa over five years to support a range of efforts, from improved connectivity to investment in startups, to help boost Africa’s digital transformation. Since then, Google has invested more than $900 million in the region.

The company has indicated that the recent investment is the latest step towards “delivering on our broader commitment to support Africa’s digital transformation, continued economic growth, and innovation”.

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