Photograph — MobileSyrup

Last week, Google announced plans to build a new private subsea cable which will connect Africa with Europe. The project is called Equiano, named after a Nigerian writer Olaudah Equiano.

The new cable is a state-of-the-art infrastructure based on space-division multiplexing (SDM) technology and has approximately 20 times more network capacity than the last cable built to serve the region. 

According to a post by the company, Equiano will start in western Europe and run along the West Coast of Africa (between Portugal and South Africa) with branching units along the way that can be used to extend connectivity to additional African countries. The first branch is expected to land in Nigeria.

The planned cable, which will be fully funded by the search engine giant, is Google’s third private international cable and its 14th subsea cable investment globally. Between 2016 and 2018, Google invested US$47 billion in capex, which includes investment in improving its global infrastructure.

Equiano’s planned route and branching units, from which additional potential landings can be built. Photo Credit: Google Cloud

With subsea cables being the backbone of the internet through which 99 percent of the world’s data traffic is transmitted, the internet company believes Equiano will further enhance its high-capacity international network. 

The new infrastructure will be the first subsea cable to “incorporate optical switching at the fibre-pair level, rather than the traditional approach of wavelength-level switching,” Google said. This helps simplify the allocation of cable capacity as well as gives the company the flexibility to add and re-allocate it in different locations as needed.

As Equiano is fully funded by Google, the company said it is able to expedite its construction timeline and optimize the number of negotiating parties. The first phase of the project, connecting South Africa with Portugal, is scheduled to be completed in 2021 after a contract to build the cable with Alcatel Submarine Networks was signed in the fourth quarter of 2018. 

“We’re excited to bring Equiano online, and look forward to working with licensed partners to bring Equiano’s capacity to even more countries across the African continent,” Google added.

Olaudah Equiano, known in his lifetime as Gustavus Vassa, was a writer and abolitionist from Ihiala, which is in Igbo region of what is today southeastern Nigeria. He was enslaved as a boy but braved the harsh conditions of the Middle Passage to the Caribbean and lived to tell his story.

Elsewhere on Ventures

Triangle arrow