Google Building Undersea Internet Cable Between Portugal And South Africa

Written by Peter Pedroncelli
Jumo undersea internet cable
Google is building an undersea internet cable to provide improved connectivity to more Africans. Photo – AP

An internet undersea cable named after Nigerian writer and abolitionist Olaudah Equiano is being built and paid for by U.S. search engine giant Google.

The Equiano project is expected to connect Portugal to South Africa by 2021 and should have 20 times more network capacity than the last cable built to serve the region, according to a Google blog post.

Enslaved as a boy, Equiano became a writer and abolitionist. He was part of the Sons of Africa abolitionist group consisting of well-known Africans living in Britain during the anti-slave trade movement in the 1780s. His slave memoir has been credited with changing the way Europeans thought about slavery.

French-owned Alcatel Submarine Networks is building the infrastructure for the Equiano undersea internet cable. Google is funding the entire operation.

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The West Africa Cable System was the previous cable built in the region.
Built by Alcatel-Lucent and owned by a consortium of 18 international telecom carriers, it was completed in 2012, according to WACS.

It begins in Bristol, U.K., and connects to Cape Town, South Africa, branching out to cities on the west coast of Africa including Abidjan, Accra, Lagos, Luanda, and Windhoek.

The new Equiano cable begins in Western Europe and will run along the West Coast of Africa from Lisbon, Portugal to Cape Town with branches along the way that can be used to extend connectivity to additional African countries, Venturebeat reports.

The first branch of the 9,300-mile cable is expected to land in Nigeria, where Google has a strong presence.

In September 2017, Google launched a mentorship program focused on supporting African tech entrepreneurs. A new Google Launchpad space in Nigeria is the first onsite location for the program outside of the U.S., according to IOL.

In 2018 Google launched a network of free public internet spaces in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country. The project aims to connect 200 public spaces in five cities by the end of 2019, according to ITWebAfrica.

Google’s 14th undersea internet cable investment

Google has invested in 14 undersea cable projects globally. All its undersea cables are named after important figures from history.

Equiano is Google’s third fully-funded private international cable.

Not to be left behind in the race to provide internet access to Africa, Facebook is reportedly working on plans for an undersea cable named Simba, Quartz reports.

Details on the Facebook project have not been confirmed, but the report suggests that the cable will circle the continent with landings on multiple coasts.