October 3, 2022


Running for thousands of miles along the sea floor, the cable’s landing was delayed for months by harsh conditions and Covid-19. But now here, a few inches wide and already covered in sand. A welcome party stood on the beach and took pictures before the cable continued inside. Equiano has finally arrived.

Equiano is the newest subsea internet cable funded by Google. Starting in Portugal and ending in South Africa, with branches to Nigeria, Togo, Saint Helena and Namibia, the 15,000-kilometre (9,320-mile) cable is designed to deliver high-speed broadband along the west coast of Africa. It has a capacity of 144 terabytes per second, 20 times that of the previous cable serving the region and Internet speeds can increase more than five times in some countries.

Named after the 18th century Nigerian-born writer and abolitionist Olaudah EquianoThe cable can prove life-changing for some.

Barney Harms was among those on the beach in Swakopmund when the cable fell. He is the CEO of telecommunications company Paratus Group, which has worked alongside Telecom Namibia to deliver the country’s 500-kilometre branch of cable. “We’re very excited, I have to say,” he told CNN before landing. “It will have a tremendous impact on the part of the world in which we live.”

Bridging the digital divide

Telecommunications have come a long way since the first undersea telegraph cable In 1858. As of 2021 there were more 1.3 million km of submarine cables around the world, carrying more than 95% for intercontinental Internet traffic. But internet access is still very uneven. In sub-Saharan Africa, internet use is The lowest region in the worldbroadband coverage is well below global averages, and high data costs have proven to be a barrier to adoption, According to the World Bank.
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Providing high-quality, affordable global broadband across Africa by 2030 will cost an estimate 109 billion dollarsAccording to the Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development. The economic impact of that investment will be profound. Less than 25% of Africans use the Internet, but if the percentage is raised to 75% (almost the same as Internet use Cuba or Moldova) can increase job creation through Nine percentshe says.
Google won’t reveal the total value of its Equiano investment, but Baratos said the deal between Google, Telecom Namibia and itself was worth Nam$300 million ($20 million). In October 2021, Google said it would invest 1 billion dollars in digital transformation in Africa, including connectivity and investments in start-ups.
Paratus Group CEO Barney Harmse poses with the Equiano Namibian subsidiary on July 1, 2022.
The cable is scheduled to begin carrying traffic at the beginning of 2023, says Baratos. according to Report commissioned by GoogleEquiano will reduce data prices by 16%-21% in South Africa, Namibia and Nigeria, the latter potentially creating 1.6 million jobs, driven by the expansion of the digital economy and peripheral sectors.

“With increased access to the Internet, societies can modernize, people can acquire new skills and knowledge that can open doors to new business opportunities, and businesses and governments can increase productivity and unlock new sources of income as a result of digital transformation,” said Bikash Kohli, Vice President of Global Networks, In a statement to CNN.

Access does not stop at the coastal states. Harmse says Paratus will connect the Namibian branch of Equiano to its network that spans Angola, Zambia, Botswana, South Africa, Mozambique and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). He says these countries will “realize an immediate benefit” when the cable is connected to the Internet.

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“We are investing daily to increase infrastructure and access to our landlocked neighbours,” Harms adds. “It’s not a single project with a definite start and stop (point)…it’s like a monster – an organism that you need to keep feeding.”

Some of the beneficiaries of this expansion are students. Baratos says it has installed internet connections at educational facilities that collectively study more than 10,000 students in Namibia as part of the EduVision Program that provides smart boards and e-learning technology to schools, particularly in rural areas.

race to connect

There’s more cables to come – work in progress in 2Africa, a 45000 km Undersea cable encircling the African continent and connecting to Europe and Asia, funded by a consortium led by Meta (formerly Facebook). The cable landed in Genoa, Italy in April and In Djibouti in May.
2Africa, a 45,000 km (28,000 mi) undersea cable that would ring Africa and connect Europe and Asia, landed in Genoa, Italy earlier this year.

The continent will need both cables and more as internet use grows, and older cables become obsolete or reach the end of their operational life.

Demand for international bandwidth in Africa tripled between 2018 and 2021, and by 2028, demand will be 16 times greater than it was last year, says Alan Mauldin, director of research at telecom market research firm TeleGeography.

While intercontinental cables will continue to play an important role in the future of the Internet in Africa, so will local data centers. Harms explains that storing more Internet data in Africa and placing data centers closer to end users will speed up response time and reduce data costs. “It’s the next big thing,” he says, adding that Paratus’ latest data center, an $8 million project in the Namibian capital of Windhoek, will be completed in August.

Meanwhile, Equiano continues its journey towards South Africa, its final destination, while engineers work to connect its subsidiaries to West Africa’s ever-growing network.

“The race is on,” Harms says. “Africa is the continent for communication.”



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