June 2, 2023

The cable runs thousands of miles along the ocean floor, and its landing has been delayed for months due to harsh conditions and the impact of Covid-19. But now it’s here, inches wide and covered in sand. A welcome party stood on the beach and posed for pictures before the cable continued inland. Equiano is finally here.

Equiano is the latest undersea internet cable to be funded by Google. Starting in Portugal and ending in South Africa, branching out to Nigeria, Togo, St. Helena and Namibia, the 15,000 km (9,320 mi) cable is designed to provide high-speed broadband along the west coast of Africa. It has a capacity of up to 144 terabytes per second, It’s 20 times faster than the cable previously served in the region, and can increase internet speeds in some countries by more than five times.

Named after the Nigerian-born 18th century writer and abolitionist Olada Equianocable may change someone’s life.

Barney Harms was on the beach in Swakopmund when the cable landed. He is the CEO of the telecommunications company Paratus Group, which has partnered with Telecom Namibia to deliver 500 kilometers of cable branches in the country. “I must say, we are very excited,” he told CNN before landing. “It’s going to have a huge impact on the world we live in.”

Bridging the digital divide

The telecommunications industry has come a long way since the first undersea telegraph cable appeared 1858. As of 2021, more than 1.3 million kilometers Submarine cables around the world, carrying more than 95% Intercontinental Internet traffic. But internet access is still very uneven.In sub-Saharan Africa, Internet use is lowest area in the worldbroadband coverage is significantly lower than the global average, and high data costs have proven to be a barrier to adoption, According to the World Bank.
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By 2030, providing universal access to high-quality, affordable broadband in Africa is estimated to cost approximately $109 billion, according to the Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development. The economic impact of this investment will be profound.Fewer than 25% of Africans use the Internet, but if this rises to 75% (compared to cuba or moldova) It can increase employment opportunities by nine percentit says.
Google would not disclose the total value of its investment in Equiano, but Paratus said the deal between Google, Namibian Telecom and itself was worth 300 million Namibian dollars ($20 million). In October 2021, Google said it would invest $1 billion Digital transformation in Africa, including connectivity and investment in startups.
Paratus Group CEO Barney Harmse poses with Equiano Namibia on July 1, 2022.
The cable is scheduled to begin carrying traffic in early 2023, Palatos said.according to A report commissioned by GoogleEquiano will lead to a 16% to 21% drop in data prices in South Africa, Namibia and Nigeria, the latter of which is likely to create 1.6 million jobs driven by the expansion of the digital economy and peripheral industries.

“As internet access increases, societies can be modernized, people can acquire new skills and knowledge, which opens doors to new employment opportunities, and businesses and governments can increase productivity and discover new revenue streams through digital transformation,” Bikash Koley, Google’s vice president of global networking, said in a statement to CNN.

Visits don’t stop with coastal countries. Harmse said Paratus will connect Equiano’s Namibian branch with its network spanning Angola, Zambia, Botswana, South Africa, Mozambique and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Those countries will benefit “immediately” when cable goes live, he said.

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“We are investing every day to increase infrastructure and capacity into our landlocked neighbours,” Harmse added. “It’s not a single project with a specific start and end (point) … it’s like a beast — an organism that you need to keep feeding.”

Some of the beneficiaries of this expansion are students. Paratus said it has installed internet connections in educational facilities as a educational vision The program provides schools with smart boards and e-learning technology, especially in rural areas.

Connect Race

And more cables to come – 2Africa’s work is in progress, 45,000 km An undersea cable that circumnavigates the African continent and connects Europe and Asia, funded by a consortium led by Meta (formerly Facebook). The cable landed in Genoa, Italy in April, Djibouti in May.
2Africa, a 45,000-kilometer (28,000-mile) submarine cable that will loop around Africa and connect Europe and Asia, landed in Genoa, Italy, earlier this year.

As internet usage grows, the continent will need cables and more cables, and old cables will become obsolete or reach the end of their useful life.

African demand for international bandwidth tripled between 2018 and 2021, and by 2028, demand will be 16 times what it was last year, said Alan Mauldin, research director at telecom market research firm TeleGeography.

While Intercontinental Cable will continue to play an important role in Africa’s internet future, so will homegrown data centers. Storing more internet data in Africa and locating data centers closer to end users will speed up response times and reduce data costs, Harmse explained. “This is the next big thing,” he said, adding that Paratus’ newest data center, an $8 million project in Namibia’s capital Windhoek, will be completed in August.

Meanwhile, Equiano continues its journey to its final destination, South Africa, while engineers work to connect its branches to the growing network in West Africa.

“The game is on,” Harms said. “Africa is connecting continents.”

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