Google Unveils Umoja Cable, Bolstering Africa’s Digital Connectivity

Google has announced the launch of Umoja, an ambitious fibre optic cable project that will directly link the continent with Australia for the first time.

The Umoja cable route, anchored in Kenya, is set to traverse through Uganda, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and South Africa, including the Google Cloud region, before spanning the Indian Ocean to reach Australia. This terrestrial path has been meticulously designed in collaboration with Liquid Technologies, a leading digital infrastructure provider, to form a highly scalable network with access points that will enable other African nations to leverage this cutting-edge connectivity.

Derived from the Swahili word for “unity,” Umoja represents a significant stride towards enhancing Africa’s digital infrastructure resilience and fostering economic opportunities through reliable internet access. Alongside the previously announced Equiano cable, Umoja falls under the broader Africa Connect initiative, a strategic endeavour aimed at empowering African countries to establish more robust digital connections among themselves and with the rest of the world.

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

President William Ruto of Kenya echoed similar sentiments, commending Google’s investment in digital connectivity as a “historic milestone” that will significantly enhance the region’s global and regional digital infrastructure. He emphasised the initiative’s crucial role in ensuring redundancy, resilience, and increased digital inclusion, ultimately paving the way for innovation and economic opportunities.

“I am delighted to welcome Google’s investment in digital connectivity, marking a historic milestone for Kenya, Africa, and Australia,” President Ruto said. “The new intercontinental fibre optic route will significantly enhance our 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.”

Strive Masiyiwa, the Chairman and founder of Liquid Technologies, underscored the transformative impact of Umoja, stating that major African cities will no longer be “hard-to-reach endpoints remote from the coastal landing sites.” Instead, they will become stations on a “data superhighway” capable of carrying vast amounts of traffic, bridging the digital divide.

“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,” Mr. Masiyiwa said. “They are now stations on a data superhighway that can carry thousands of times more traffic than currently reaches here. I am proud that this project helps us deliver a digitally connected future that leaves no African behind, regardless of how far they are from the technology centres of the world.”

Extending beyond the infrastructure announcement, Google has also signed a Statement of Collaboration with Kenya’s Ministry of Information Communications and The Digital Economy. This collaboration aims to accelerate joint efforts in cybersecurity, data-driven innovation, digital upskilling, and the responsible and safe deployment of AI for societal benefits.

As part of this collaboration, Google Cloud and Kenya are exploring ways to strengthen the country’s cybersecurity posture, with the Department of Immigration & Citizen Services evaluating Google Cloud’s CyberShield solution and Mandiant expertise to fortify the defense of its eCitizen platform.

Google’s long-standing commitment to Africa’s digital transformation is further underscored by its $1 billion investment pledge over five years, supporting various initiatives ranging from improved connectivity to startup investments. To date, Google has invested over $900 million in the region, with expectations to fulfil its commitment by 2026.

With the Umoja cable poised to unlock new frontiers of digital connectivity and economic growth across Africa, Google’s strategic partnership with African nations signifies a significant step towards a more digitally unified and prosperous future for the continent.



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