May 24, 2024

Google Is Building An Undersea Fiber Optic Cable Connecting Africa With Australia

Google has announced the construction of Umoja, the first-ever fiber optic cable to link Africa with Australia directly. 

This initiative, named after the Swahili word for “unity,” aims to boost the reliability and reach of digital infrastructure across the continents.

The Umoja cable

The Umoja cable will begin in Kenya and traverse 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. 

According to Google’s press release, the terrestrial segment of the route has already been completed in collaboration with Liquid Intelligent Technologies. 

Google expects the cable’s completion will significantly reduce high-impact outages and improve the region’s digital inclusion and economic opportunities.

Tackling widespread outages

The announcement follows recent widespread outages across the African continent due to faulty undersea cables.

“Africa’s major cities, including Nairobi, Kampala, Kigali, Lubumbashi, Lusaka, and Harare, will no longer be hard-to-reach endpoints remote from the coastal landing sites that connect Africa to the world,” said Strive Masiyiwa, Chairman and founder of Liquid Intelligent Technologies.

“They are now stations on a data superhighway that can carry thousands of times more traffic than currently reaches here.” 

Building subsea cables worldwide

The Umoja cable is part of Google’s broader strategy to invest in global connectivity infrastructure. 

As TechCrunch reports, Google has previously invested in similar projects, such as the Equiano cable, which connects Portugal with Nigeria and South Africa. 

This new initiative aligns with Google’s efforts to build subsea cables worldwide, including a planned cable connecting South America with the Asia-Pacific region.

The project does not have a specified completion date. However, a Google spokesperson told TechCrunch that the typical timeline for these kind of projects is approximately three years, so Umoja could be operational by 2026.

Image credit: Google

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Samara Linton

Community Manager at POCIT | Co-editor of The Colour of Madness: Mental Health and Race in Technicolour (2022), and co-author of Diane Abbott: The Authorised Biography (2020)