Google announces "first-ever" fibre optic route to directly connect Africa and Australia

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May 23, 2024
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2 min read
Google's office building
  • Google has announced Umoja, a first-ever fibre optic cable project to connect Africa and Australia directly.
  • Umoja starts in Kenya and travels through several countries, including the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, before ending in South Africa. It will also pass through the Google Cloud region before heading to Australia via the Indian Ocean. 
  • Umoja's terrestrial path was completed in collaboration with Liquid Technologies and is designed to allow other countries to benefit from the network.

Google also stated that Umoja has joined Equiano in an initiative known as Africa Connect. Equiano is Google's private subsea cable, launched in 2019 to connect Africa and Europe. 

Google's goal in developing a new route separate from existing connectivity routes is to maintain a resilient network in a region that has previously experienced high-impact outages.

On the announcement, William Ruto, Kenya's President where the Umoja is stationed, stated that Google's investment is a watershed moment for Kenya, Africa, and Australia, and will significantly improve 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.”

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In March 2024, several African countries experienced Internet outages due to undersea cable damage. In May, Eassy and Seacom's two submarine Internet cables connecting South Africa and Kenya failed, causing Internet service disruptions in several East African countries, including Kenya and Tanzania.

Aside from Umoja, Google said it will sign a Statement of Collaboration with Kenya’s Ministry of Information Communications and The Digital Economy for joint efforts in the areas including cybersecurity, digital upskilling and AI.

Concerning the cybersecurity collaboration, Google stated that Kenya's Department of Immigration and Citizen Services is evaluating its Cloud's CyberShield solution and Mandiant expertise to strengthen the defence of its eCitizen platform.

This comes as Microsoft, another tech behemoth, has partnered with G42 and an AI firm in the UAE for digital investments in Kenya, allocating $1 billion for the initiative's initial phase. Aside from a geothermal data centre, Microsoft's initiative includes developing AI models in Swahili/English, providing cybersecurity support, and assisting Kenya in developing international and domestic marine and terrestrial fibre cable infrastructure.


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