A subsea cable owned by Google that promises to double internet speeds for millions in Africa has finally arrived on the continent.
According to the company, the arrival is the latest step in a multi-year project to provide cheaper access to users across the continent.
Planned to arrive first in Nigeria, the digital giant’s fiber optic cable finally chose Togo as its first African stopover. This is because Lomé accelerated the discussions which started in 2019 with Google by putting forward its national strategy, ‘Togo Digital 2025’, to finally obtain the premiere of cable reception. Meanwhile, this reinforces the country’s ambitions as a digital hub in West Africa.
Google said in a statement that “The Equiano cable, the first of its kind to reach Africa, has wound its way from Portugal and will double internet speed for Togo’s 8 million residents.”
That may be a taste of things to come for other countries set to benefit in a region where internet use is rising fast, but where networks are often cripplingly slow and are a drag on economic development.
The Togolese Minister of Digital Economy and Digital Transformation, Cina Lawson, expressed his excitement about the cables landing on the quay of Togo Terminal of the autonomous port of Lomé, even though the country was not initially among the beneficiary countries.
“Togo, which was not on the list of beneficiary countries of the first cohort, was integrated after several months of negotiations and it becomes the first African country to host the cable.”Cina Lawson
In a ceremony chaired by Head of State, Faure Gnassingbé, to welcome the submarine fiber optic cable to Togo, Cina Lawson averred that the cable will link nine countries on the continent to the rest of Europe.
“This success allows us to meet the requirements of the government roadmap on strengthening internet connection to the global network. The cable, which must offer 20 times the bandwidth of any other existing cable in West Africa, must be synonymous with an increase in internet speed; an improvement in the experience users; and a reduction in data costs of more than 14% by 2025.”Cina Lawson
Nitin Gajria, Managing Director from Google for sub-Saharan Africa also expressed his happiness saying, “We are delighted that Togo is the cable’s first landing point on the African continent, as it aligns with the country’s ongoing efforts to promote digital inclusion for Africa.”
The new line will also make land in Nigeria, Namibia and South Africa, with possible branches offering connections to nearby countries. It is expected to start operating by the end of the year.
According to a study sponsored by Google, the submarine cable should create 37,000 jobs between 2022 and 2025 in the Togo and generate more than 350 million dollars in business over the period. The equipment should also make it possible to greatly increase the internet penetration rate, currently 23%.
According to a 2020 report by GSMA Intelligence, Sub-Saharan Africa is the world’s least-connected region, with around a quarter of the population still lacking mobile broadband coverage compared to 7% globally.
Most countries in West Africa are at the bottom of a World Bank global ranking on internet penetration. Togo will be the first to benefit. The cable is expected to reduce internet prices by 14% by 2025, according to an Africa Practice and Genesis Analytics assessment commissioned by Google.
Until now, the country gets a single cable, the WACS (West Africa Cable System), which makes it vulnerable to connection difficulties and cuts; as in January 2020 when a malfunction led to connection problems for more than twenty hours.
After Lomé, the ship, which pulled the cable from Lisbon to the Togolese capital, will set sail for Lagos in Nigeria before heading to South Africa for general commissioning scheduled for the last quarter of the year.
READ ALSO: Agriculture in an interconnected world