By Chinenye Anuforo

Google has announced the launch of Umoja, the first-ever fibre optic cable directly connecting Africa with Australia. This significant infrastructure project aims to increase the reach and reliability of digital connectivity across the African continent.

Umoja, meaning “unity” in Swahili, will run from Kenya through Uganda, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and South Africa, with access points for other countries to join the network. It will then traverse the Indian Ocean to reach Australia.

This new route signifies a crucial step in Google’s Africa Connect initiative, alongside the previously launched Equiano cable. Umoja will enhance network resilience for Africa, a region susceptible to outages on existing subsea cables.

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

“I am delighted to welcome Google’s investment in digital connectivity, marking a historic milestone for Kenya, Africa, and Australia. 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,” Dr William Ruto, President of the Republic of Kenya said.

“Diversifying Australia’s connectivity and supporting digital inclusion across the globe are both incredibly important objectives, and Google’s Umoja cable will help to do just that. Australia welcomes Google’s investment and congratulates all those involved in undertaking this crucial initiative,” Michelle Rowland MP, Australian Minister for Communications.

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“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. 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,” said Strive Masiyiwa, Chairman and founder of Liquid.

Google’s commitment extends beyond infrastructure. The company will sign a Statement of Collaboration with Kenya’s Ministry of Information Communications and The Digital Economy. This collaboration focuses on areas like cybersecurity, digital upskilling, and responsible AI deployment.

Since opening its first Sub-Saharan Africa office in Nairobi in 2007, Google has consistently invested in the continent’s digital transformation. Their $1 billion pledge over five years supports initiatives like improved connectivity, startup investment, and digital skills development.

Estimates suggest Google’s products and services generated over $30 billion of economic activity in Sub-Saharan Africa between 2021 and 2023. Africa’s internet economy has the potential to reach $180 billion by 2025.

Skilling the Workforce: Google’s training programs equip entrepreneurs with digital skills to build and sustain businesses, driving local economic growth.

AI for Africa: Google’s AI Research Centers and Product Development Centers in Africa develop solutions tackling local challenges.

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