Google’s high-speed underwater internet cable arrives in Lomé, Togo
In 2019, Google announced the Equiano subsea cable, the first subsea cable to incorporate optical switching at the fiber-pair level, rather than the traditional approach of wavelength-level switching that is expected to provide Africa with high-speed internet and drive digital transformation in the continent. The cable which run from Portugal along the West Coast of Africa — connecting Europe to Togo, Nigeria, Namibia, South Africa, and St. Helena made its first landing this Friday in Lomé, Togo — marking the cable’s first stop along Africa’s Atlantic coast.
The landing in Togo may come as a surprise since an initial map of the project suggested it would branch out first in Lagos, Nigeria, arguably Africa’s technology hub. But Cina Lawson, Togo’s Minister for Digital Economy and Digital Transformation said her government successfully made the case to Google that it should be Togo instead.
“People around the world use Google products every day to stay in touch with friends and family, find directions, connect with new customers or bring products to new markets. As 300 million people come online in Africa over the next five years, the Equiano cable is part of our ongoing commitment to Africa, expanding opportunity and improving connectivity in order to help bring the benefits of technology to more Africans,” Google wrote in a blog post.
With Togo’s strong commitment to boosting the digital economy, the arrival of Equiano is a key step in the country’s continued digital development. According to a recent economic impact assessment conducted by Africa Practice and Genesis Analytics, Equiano is expected to result in faster internet speeds, improved user experience, and lower internet prices in Togo. Internet speeds in the country are expected to more than double from 10 Mbps in 2021 to 21 Mbps in 2025, while retail internet prices are forecast to decline by 14% over the same period. Also according to the economic assessment, improved speeds and lower prices are expected to boost internet penetration: Between 2022 and 2025, Equiano should indirectly create 37,000 new jobs in Togo driven by the growth of the digital economy and peripheral sectors.
Google said the cable will improve the resilience of the Google network, as well as its partners, will be able to use and benefit from the Equiano cable’s capacity. The company announced that it is partnering with multiple key telecom players, including Société d’infrastructures numériques (SIN) and CSquared, where Equiano lands to ensure that the cable can reach more businesses and end-users across Togo and the African continent more broadly. Equiano will carry approximately 20 times more network capacity than the last cable built to serve this region.
“With the arrival of the Equiano cable in Lomé, we look forward to helping contribute to the achievement of Togo’s digital goals and accelerating digital transformation not only in the country but across the continent,” said Nitin Gajria, Managing Director, Google Africa.