Equiano, a subsea cable owned by Google that promises to double the internet speed for millions in Africa landed in Togo, West Africa, on Friday for the first time.

This is Google’s 14th undersea cable investment, but the first specifically aimed at expanding internet access in Africa. The $1 billion investment in Africa, which includes a $50 million venture capital startup fund, is planned to transit from Portugal to South Africa.

Subsea also known as submarine cables, are fiber optic cables that connect countries across the world.

Contrary to plans revealed earlier, the first stopover was not Lagos, Nigeria, Africa’s technology hub. Cina Lawson, Togo’s minister of the digital economy and digital transformation, says her government successfully persuaded Google that it should be Togo.

CSquared, a telecommunications infrastructure company that began operating in Uganda in 2011, and Société d’Infrastructures Numériques (SIN), Togo’s telecommunications asset company and joint venture partner, helped bring Equiano to Togo.

According to Lawson, CSquared Woezon, a Togolese company, would oversee the landing station and high-voltage power cables connecting Togo to Ghana, Burkina Faso, and Benin. It will also serve as the country’s broadband backbone by extending internet services from the undersea cable to other regions of the country.

For Togo, the arrival of fibre optic cable is a significant event. Even though 72% of the population has a mobile phone and ranks 6th in Africa on the World Bank’s (now halted) ease of doing business list, just 30% of the population has access to mobile broadband. Most Togolese are still on 3G, which barely covers two-thirds of the country, while the rest of the globe is using 5G.

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Over the next five years, Google says 300 million people will come online in Africa, and the cable promises to improve connectivity and bring the benefits of technology to more Africans.

Up to 2025, Equiano is also predicted to boost Togo’s GDP by $351 million. However, Lawson estimates Togo will need multiples of that sum, up to €300 million, to fully develop this potential. All of our power lines will be equipped with fibre optic cables, which we are currently discussing with lenders. It’s going to take some time, but we’ll get there.

Named for Olaudah Equiano, a Nigerian-born writer and abolitionist who was enslaved as a boy, the Equiano cable is state-of-the-art infrastructure based on space-division multiplexing (SDM) technology, with 12 fibre pairs and a design capacity of 150Tbps, approximately 20 times more network capacity than the last cable built to serve this region. The SDM technology was first deployed in Google’s second private subsea cable, Dunant.

Equiano will be the first subsea cable to incorporate optical switching at the fibre-pair level, rather than the traditional approach of wavelength-level switching.

The cable is expected to reduce internet prices by 14 percent by 2025, according to an Africa Practice and Genesis Analytics assessment commissioned by Google.

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Nigel Jr.
As a tech enthusiast and expert, Nigel Jr. is dedicated to providing in-depth and insightful content on all things technology. With a background in online journalism, product reviewing, and tech creation, Nigel has become a trusted source for all things tech.

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