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Google to boost internet connectivity in Africa with Umoja cable connecting Australia

Umoja cable

Google, on Thursday, announced plans to build a new fibre optic cable called Umoja to connect Africa to Australia in its bid to improve Internet connectivity on the continent.

The company announced this project on Thursday via its blog. Anchored in Kenya, the Umoja cable route will pass through Uganda, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and South Africa, including the Google Cloud region, before crossing the Indian Ocean to Australia, Google said.

According to the company, Umoja will be the first ever fiber optic route to directly connect Africa with Australia.

Google disclosed that Umoja’s terrestrial path was built in collaboration with Liquid Technologies to form a highly scalable route through Africa, including access points that will allow other countries to take advantage of the network.

Google said the project is made possible with partnerships from leaders across Africa and Australia, adding that the project aims to connect African people, businesses, and governments. Commenting on the project, U.S. Ambassador to Kenya, Meg Whitman, said,

“Access to the latest technology, supported by reliable and resilient digital infrastructure, is critical to growing economic opportunity. This is a meaningful moment for Kenya’s digital transformation journey and the benefits of today’s announcement will cascade across the region.”  

On his part, President of the Republic of Kenya, Dr. William S. Ruto, expressed his delight at Google’s investment in digital connectivity, marking a historic milestone for Kenya, Africa, and Australia. According to him, the new intercontinental fiber optic route will significantly enhance the country’s global and regional digital infrastructure.

“This initiative is crucial in ensuring the redundancy and resilience of our region’s connectivity to the rest of the world, especially in light of recent disruptions caused by cuts to sub-sea cables. By strengthening our digital backbone, we are not only improving reliability but also paving the way for increased digital inclusion, innovation, and economic opportunities for our people and businesses,” he said.

Also commenting on the initiative, Australian Minister for Communications, Hon Michelle Rowland MP, said:

“Diversifying Australia’s connectivity and supporting digital inclusion across the globe are both incredibly important objectives, and Google’s Umoja cable will help to do just that. Australia welcomes Google’s investment and congratulates all those involved in undertaking this crucial initiative.”

Umoja, which is the Swahili word for unity, joins Equiano in an initiative called Africa Connect. According to Google, the project will enable African countries to more reliably connect with each other and the rest of the world.

As part of the Africa Connect initiative, Google landed the Equiano cable in Nigeria in April 2022. The cable, named after Olaudah Equiano, a Nigerian-born writer and abolitionist, was among the first in a series of landings in Africa for the subsea cable, which runs from Portugal along Africa’s west coast to South Africa.

In 2021, Google announced a commitment to invest $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, the company said it has invested more than $900 million in the region and it expects to fulfill its commitment by 2026.

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